from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Moonlight.
  • n. Informal Foolish talk or thought; nonsense.
  • n. Illegally distilled whiskey. Also called regionally white lightning.
  • intransitive v. To distill and sell liquor illegally.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The light of the moon; moonlight.
  • n. Illegally distilled liquor, so named because much of the manufacturing process often is conducted without artificial light at night when the moon is shining.
  • n. nonsense
  • n. A branch of pure mathematics relating the monster group to an invariant of elliptic functions; see monstrous moonshine.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Moonlight.
  • adj. Empty; trivial; idle.
  • adj. Designating, or pertaining to, illicit liquor.
  • n. The light of the moon.
  • n. Hence, show without substance or reality.
  • n. A month.
  • n. A preparation of eggs for food.
  • n. Liquor smuggled or illicitly distilled, especially liquor distilled illegally in rural parts of the southern U. S.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The shining or light of the moon.
  • n. Figuratively (as light without heat), show without substance or reality: pretense; empty show; fiction: as, that's all moonshine.
  • n. A month.
  • n. A dish of poached eggs served with a sauce.
  • n. Smuggled spirits: so called as being brought in or taken away at night.
  • Illuminated by the moon.
  • Nocturnal.
  • Empty; trivial.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. whiskey illegally distilled from a corn mash
  • v. distill (alcohol) illegally; produce moonshine
  • n. the light of the Moon


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • John Boy Walton --- stole moonshine from the Baldwin Sisters 'still.

    What's in a name?

  • A visit today to a United States District Court in most any section of the Blue Ridge Country where makers of illicit whiskey are being tried shows that the name moonshine no longer applies to the beverage.

    Blue Ridge Country

  • It had also spawned an underground, tax-free trade in an illegal substance that would forever be known as moonshine, and a collection apparatus staffed by men from the Bureau of Internal Revenue who would forever be known as revenuers.


  • The skills required were not all that different from making moonshine, which is why whiskey makers went into oil refining in the nineteenth century.

    The Prize

  • It used to be called moonshine, now you probably call it white gold because the price of ethanol is going up, but causing some problems, too.

    CNN Transcript Jun 19, 2006

  • I recall the moonshine upon their faces, the swift dartings of their faintly luminous blades, their strangely altering shadows on the snow as they moved, the steady attention of us who looked on, the moan of the wind among the trees upon the neighbouring heights, the sound of the men's tramping on the crusted snow, the clear clink of their weapons, sometimes the noise of their breathing.

    Philip Winwood A Sketch of the Domestic History of an American Captain in the War of Independence; Embracing Events that Occurred between and during the Years 1763 and 1786, in New York and London: written by His Enemy in War, Herbert Russell, Lieutenant in the Loyalist Forces.

  • ROCKY MOUNT - Franklin County is known for its "white lightning" (aka moonshine), but the

    News for WSLS 10

  • This appalling, 30-proof abomination is neither moonshine, which is the clear, high-octane alcohol that screams off a homemade still -- nor, we're betting, does it contain any actual peach. - HOME PAGE

  • Possession of the moonshine is a Class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious kind of misdemeanor. - News

  • When you think that some people make illegal alcohol, otherwise known as moonshine which under current laws in your country is illegal, I would doubt very much that you would have a law in place saying you can't distill water, even Alex Jones promotes a home still to purify your water.

    Alex Jones' Prison


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  • more than you would think - a mathematical conjecture

    May 16, 2007

  • Wow. I feel deprived. No pockets of backwoods moonshiners around here that *I* know of.

    I agree, though--great asides for a word I've always liked. :-)

    March 5, 2007

  • There is a similar "pocket" of individuals, mostly members of a large extended family, around my neighborhood. That they are still making and selling moonshine was made public a year or so ago when it hit the newspapers that students of a local college were caught frequenting the out-of-the-way road to buy gallon jars of homemade liquor. There are still moonshiners out there, it's true.

    March 5, 2007

  • It's very true. Frighteningly so.

    March 4, 2007

  • that's the best little aside I've read in a long time, true or not.

    March 4, 2007

  • Mmm, Mountain Dew.

    Side note: There is a tiny, tiny little village in the heart of Florida's Ocala National Forest, called Scrambletown. You won't find it on any map. Scrambletown is a general store, junkyard, honey farm, and fundamentalist Baptist church, surrounded by mobile homes. The population, surely in the low triple-digits, consists mainly of two largish redneck families.

    My family stumbled into Scrambletown in 2001. We were considered outcasts, city folk, and (to make matters worse) my mom wouldn't wear long dresses and my dad wouldn't join the local militia. Regardless, I lived there two years before moving away, and my family remained another year before they hit the road as well.

    All this to say that Scrambletown's claim to "fame" is that it was a major production center for moonshine during the prohibition. Eventually, the feds came in to raid the place, and everybody scrambled. Hence the name. To this day, Scrambletown remains the nearly-invisible backwoods home of all manner of inbreds, outlaws, and card-carrying members of the KKK. They have withdrawn from society, and society has forgotten them.

    March 4, 2007

  • Moonshine (sometimes known as Poteen, mooney, hooch, mountain dew, or white lightning) is a common slang term for home-distilled alcohol, especially in places where this production is illegal.

    The name is often assumed to be derived from the fact that moonshine producers and smugglers would often work at night (i.e. under the light of the moon) to avoid arrest for producing illegal liquor. The 1811 edition of the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, originally by Francis Grose, defines "moonshine" as follows: "A matter or mouthful of moonshine; a trifle, nothing. The white brandy smuggled on the coasts of Kent and Sussex, and the gin in the north of Yorkshire, are also called moonshine." 1 It has been suggested that the term might derive from smugglers' explaining away their boxes and barrels as "mere moonshine" (that is, nothing). (Jonathon Green, American Dialect Society Mailing List, 31 Oct 2001)

    The Armenian name for moonshine is aragh (the word comes from Arabic araq عرق, meaning "sweat" or "juice")

    March 4, 2007