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From Middle English monelight, from Old English mōnan lēoht (moonlight, literally moon's light, light of the moon). Equivalent to moon +‎ light. Cognate with Scots munelicht ~ muinlicht, West Frisian moanneljocht, Dutch maanlicht, German Mondlicht.


  • (US) enPR: mo͞on'līt, IPA(key): /ˈmunˌlaɪt/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: moon‧light


moonlight (usually uncountable, plural moonlights)

  1. (sometimes attributive) The light reflected from the Moon.


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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


moonlight (third-person singular simple present moonlights, present participle moonlighting, simple past and past participle moonlighted)

  1. To work on the side (at a secondary job), often in the evening or during the night.
  2. (by extension) To engage in an activity other than what one is known for.
  3. (by extension, of an inanimate object) To perform a secondary function substantially different from its supposed primary function, as in protein moonlighting.
  4. (Britain, dated) To carry out undeclared work.

Usage notes[edit]

In American English, to moonlight is simply to work at secondary employment;[1] in British English, it used to imply working secretly (i.e. not paying tax on the extra money earned), but more recent editions of some UK dictionaries no longer differentiate between the US and UK meaning; in both, legality of moonlighting is thus qualified with adjectives.[2]

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  1. ^ Mish, Drederick C. (ed.). 1995. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ Treffry, Diana (ed.). 1999. Collins Paperback English Dictionary. 4th ed. Glasgow: HarperCollins.

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