Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



moon +‎ shine. Illegally distilled liquor is so named because its manufacture may be conducted without artificial light at night-time.


  • IPA(key): /ˈmuːnʃaɪn/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: moon‧shine


moonshine (countable and uncountable, plural moonshines)

  1. (literally) The light of the moon.
    Synonyms: moonlight, moonbeam
    • c. 1591–1595, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, 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 606515358, [Act I, scene iv]:
      [...] her Waggon Spokes made of long Spinners legs: the Couer of the wings of Graſhoppers, her Traces of the ſmalleſt Spiders web, her coullers of the Moonſhines watry Beames [...]
    • 1666 September 2, Samuel Pepys, Mynors Bright, editor, The Diary of Samuel Pepys[1], London: George Bell & Sons, published 1893:
      [...] the newes coming every moment of the growth of the fire; so as we were forced to begin to pack up our owne goods; and prepare for their removal; and did by moonshine (it being brave dry, and moonshine, and warm weather) carry much of my goods into the garden [...]
    • 1690, [John] Dryden, Amphitryon; or, The Two Sosia’s. [], London: [] J[acob] Tonson, []; and M. Tonson [], published 1691, OCLC 228726855, Act II, scene i, page 11:
      [...] I have been in an Ague fit, ever ſince ſhut of Evening; what with the fright of Trees by the High-way, which look'd maliciouſly like Thieves, by Moon-ſhine: and what with Bulruſhes by the River-ſide, that ſhak'd like Spears, and Lances at me.
    • 1718, John Gay, “O ruddier than the Cherry”, from Act 2 of George Frideric Handel’s opera Acis and Galatea, page 47:
      [...] O Nymph more bright than moon-ſhine night, like Kidlings blithe and merry [...]
    • 1798, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Lyrical Ballads, Part I, page 10:
      In mist or cloud on mast or shroud / It perch’d for vespers nine, / Whiles all the night thro’ fog smoke-white / Glimmer’d the white moon-shine.
    • 1885, Richard F. Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night:
      So I came forth of the sea and sat down on the edge of an island in the moonshine, where a passer-by found me and, carrying me to the his house, besought me of love-liesse; but I smote him on the head, so that he all but died; whereupon he carried me forth and sold me to the merchant from whom thou hadst me, [...]
    • 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 2,[2]
      “[...] it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you think? [...]”
  2. (informal) High-proof alcohol (especially whiskey) that is often, but not always, produced illegally.
    Synonyms: bathtub gin, bootleg, corn liquor, hooch, mountain dew, white lightning, coon-dick, coondick
    They watered down the moonshine.
    • 1920, Peter B. Kyne, The Understanding Heart, Chapter IV
      “Wish I'd been more polite to that girl,” the sheriff remarked regretfully. [...] I know she’d have give me another drink of that old moonshine she has.”
    • 1974, Betty Davis (lyrics and music), “They Say I'm Different”, performed by Betty Davis:
      My great grandpa was a blues lover / He'd be rockin' his moonshine to B.B. King and Jimmy Reed
  3. (colloquial) Nonsense.
    He was talking moonshine.
    • 1945, George Orwell, chapter 5, in Animal Farm[3]:
      “[...] But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills—Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?”
    • 2012 October 28, Robin McKie, “David Attenborough: force of nature”, in The Observer[4], retrieved 29 October 2012:
      We forget what we have learned in the last 60 years. At university I once asked one of my lecturers why he was not talking to us about continental drift and I was told, sneeringly, that if I could I prove there was a force that could move continents, then he might think about it. The idea was moonshine, I was informed.
  4. (mathematics) A branch of pure mathematics relating the Monster group to an invariant of elliptic functions.
  5. (US, cooking) A spiced dish of eggs and fried onions.
  6. (obsolete) A month.

Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]



moonshine m (uncountable)

  1. (rare) moonshine (Appalachian home-made liquor)