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.
- (sometimes attributive) The light reflected from the Moon.
- c. 1595–1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “A Midsommer Nights Dreame”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
- If you will patiently dance in our round
And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
- c. 1596–1598 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
- How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
- 1897, Bram Stoker, chapter 3, in Dracula, New York, N.Y.: Modern Library, →OCLC:
- The windows were curtainless, and the yellow moonlight, flooding in through the diamond panes, enabled one to see even colours, whilst it softened the wealth of dust which lay over all and disguised in some measure the ravages of time and the moth.
- 1937 September 21, J[ohn] R[onald] R[euel] Tolkien, chapter 16, in The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again, 3rd edition, London: Unwin Books, George Allen & Unwin, published 1966 (1970 printing), →ISBN, page 272:
- It was as if a globe had been filled with moonlight and hung before them in a net woven of the glint of frosty stars.
- 1957, Sylvia Dee, “Moonlight Swim” (song recorded by Nick Noble and Elvis Presley),
- Let’s go on a moonlight swim
Far away from the crowd
All alone upon the beach
Our lips and our arms
Close within each other’s reach
Will be on a moonlight swim
- Let’s go on a moonlight swim
- 1958, Chinua Achebe, chapter 2, in Things Fall Apart, New York: Astor-Honor, published 1959:
- On a moonlight night it would be different. The happy voices of children playing in open fields would then be heard. And perhaps those not so young would be playing in pairs in less open places, and old men and women would remember their youth.
- moonlight blue
- moonlight flit
- moonlight requisition
- moonlight tower
- moonlight school
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- To work on the side (at a secondary job), often in the evening or during the night.
- 2004 July, Richard Porter, Paul Kerensa, “MPVs as minicabs” (00:22:29 from the start), in Top Gear (2002 TV series), season 4, episode 7, James D. May (actor), United Kingdom, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, via BBC Two, →OCLC:
- There are three individual rear seats. They all slide, they all fold, or they can all be removed completely, so that you can moonlight as a van.
- (by extension) To engage in an activity other than what one is known for.
- (by extension, of an inanimate object) To perform a secondary function substantially different from its supposed primary function, as in protein moonlighting.
- (Britain, dated) To carry out undeclared work.
In American English, to moonlight is simply to work at secondary employment; 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.