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[moon-shahyn] /ˈmunˌʃaɪn/
Informal. smuggled or illicitly distilled liquor, especially corn liquor as illicitly distilled chiefly in rural areas of the southern U.S.
empty or foolish talk, ideas, etc.; nonsense.
the light of the moon; moonlight.
Origin of moonshine
1375-1425; late Middle English: moonlight. See moon, shine1, Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for moonshine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Seaward from palace-haunts, in the moonshine glistened and darkened.

    Poems William D. Howells
  • And the bridges are not of iron and concrete, but of rainbows and––moonshine!

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • The high road, whitened by the moonshine, stretched far into the distance.

  • It means just moonshine and mush and lookin' into each other's eyes, that's about all.

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • Thar war a trial, an' they proved ez he'd been consarned in makin' moonshine.

    Frank Merriwell Down South Burt L. Standish
  • I don't suppose they have been able to check the making of moonshine—that is, not to any extent?

    Frank Merriwell Down South Burt L. Standish
  • For under the teachings of experience I have sown not starlight and moonshine, but seeds.

    The Plum Tree David Graham Phillips
British Dictionary definitions for moonshine


another word for moonlight (sense 1)
(US & Canadian) illegally distilled or smuggled whisky or other spirit
foolish talk or thought
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for moonshine

c.1500, "moonlight," from moon (n.) + shine (n.). In figurative use, implying "appearance without substance," from late 15c.; perhaps connected in that sense with notion of "moonshine in water" (cf. moonraker). Meaning "illicit liquor" is attested from 1785 (earliest reference is to that smuggled on the coasts of Kent and Sussex); moonlight also occasionally was used in this sense early 19c. As a verb from 1883. Related: Moonshiner (1860).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for moonshine



  1. Whiskey made by unlicensed distillers; corn whiskey; mountain dew: the moonshine distilled in the mountains (1877+)
  2. Any cheap, inferior whiskey; rotgut (1920+)
  3. Any liquor or whiskey (1920+)
  4. Exaggerated talk; vain chatter; baloney, bullshit: His story's plain moonshine (1843+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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