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From Middle English monelight, monelicht, equivalent to moon +‎ light. Compare Scots munelicht, muinlicht, West Frisian moanneljocht, Dutch maanlicht, German Mondlicht.



moonlight ‎(uncountable)

  1. The light reflected from the Moon.[1]
  2. (attributive) Illuminated by the light from the Moon.[2]

Derived terms[edit]


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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.[1]
  2. (by extension) To engage in an activity other than what one is known for.

Usage notes[edit]

In American English, to moonlight is simply to work at secondary employment;[3] 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 mention a difference to the US usage.[4]

Derived terms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Webster's College Dictionary, Random House, 2001
  2. ^ The Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1998
  3. ^ Mish, Drederick C. (ed.). 1995. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
  4. ^ Treffry, Diana (ed.). 1999. Collins Paperback English Dictionary. 4th ed. Glasgow: HarperCollins.