Etymology
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moonshine (n.)

early 15c., "moonlight, the shining of the moon," from moon (n.) + shine (n.). Similar formation in Dutch maneschijn, German Mondschein, Swedish månsken, Danish maaneskin. In a figurative use, "appearance without substance, pretense, fiction" from late 15c.; perhaps from the notion of "moonshine in water" (see moonraker) or "light without heat."

Meaning "illicit or smuggled liquor" is attested from 1785 (earliest reference is to that smuggled on the coasts of Kent and Sussex; in reference to Southern U.S., by 1829), from the notion of being brought in or taken out under cover of darkness at night. Moonlight also occasionally was used in this sense early 19c. As a verb in this sense from 1883. Related: Moonshiner "smuggler; one who pursues a dangerous or illegal trade at night" (1860).

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moonraker (n.)

also moon-raker, "stupid or silly person," in England, a name traditionally given to Wiltshire people, 1787, from the stock joke about fools who mistook the reflection of the moon in a pond for a cheese and tried to rake it out. But as told in Wiltshire, the men were surprised trying to rake up kegs of smuggled brandy, and put off the revenuers by acting foolish. Compare moonshine. Related: Moonraking.

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moonlight (v.)

"hold a second job, especially at night," 1957 (implied in the verbal noun moonlighting), from moonlighter "one who takes a second job after hours" (1954), from the notion of working by the light of the moon; see moonlight (n.). Earlier the verb had been used to mean "commit crimes at night" (1882), from moonlighter in reference to members of organized bands that carried on agrarian outrages in Ireland. And compare moonshine. Moonlighter in American English meant "one of a party who go about serenading on moonlit nights" (by 1897).

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