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Moonlight is an interesting compound word that has a literal meaning that is quite different from its figurative meaning. A compound word is one that is composed of two different words put together. We will examine the meaning of the word moonlight, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The literal meaning of the word moonlight is the light emitted by the moon. However, the word moonlight is also used as a verb to mean to work a second job in addition to one’s primary employment. Many people moonlight to make ends meet or to afford extra luxuries such as a vacation or holiday gifts. Related words are moonlights, moonlighted, moonlighting, moonlighter. The word moonlight used as a verb first appeared in the 1950s, derived from the idea of working by the light of the moon. An earlier use of the word moonlight as a verb to mean committing crimes during the night time has gone out of use.


Michael Strahan, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos opened Monday’s broadcast of “Good Morning America” laughing over the strains of a 1972 King Harvest tune about dancing in the moonlight – a teaser for a segment about a bright phenomenon known as a “supermoon.” (Variety Magazine)

Muffled in a jacket, woolly hat and gloves, I plod, panting and breathless, up the final slope to Sailung Peak in the moonlight. (The Daily Mail)

DANNY Dyer has a burning desire to moonlight as a tour guide on the set of EastEnders when he’s finished filming for the day. (The Sun)

Gary Fineout’s story last week on legislative employees moonlighting and the stories that followed it were disturbing to a codger like me. (The Sunshine State News)