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Moonshine is an American term with its roots in British English. We will examine the meaning of the term moonshine, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The most well-known definition of the word moonshine is illegal liquor, most often brewed in the Appalachian area of the United States. Moonshine may also be used to mean nonsense or a foolish idea, as well as the light shining from the moon. The term moonshine is derived from fifteenth century Britain. At that time, moonrakers smuggled illicit liquor across the English Channel from France. at night. Moonshine came to mean appearance without substance, or the liquor being smuggled into England. The term migrated to the United States to describe illicit liquor brewed in stills in the Appalachian Mountains, far from the eyes of the Revenuer or the tax man. The term moonshine more or less died out in Britain, but has remained in use in the United States. Other terms for moonshine are white lightning and hootch. Moonshine is illegal not only for being a method of dodging taxes, but also because if brewed improperly, it may cause blindness or death.


Directed by Duddy, the clip takes the idea of a “drinkin’ problem” to the extreme, with the Texas trio running what looks like moonshine to various bars and watering holes before getting busted by the cops. (Rolling Stone Magazine)

Each hidden distillery needed to use runners—drivers in understated or otherwise ordinary-looking cars who could smuggle moonshine from the stills to thirsty customers across the region. (Smithsonian Magazine)

According to the Newton Police Department, the shiners were selling both types of alcohol they were making — typically mixing the moonshine with fruit and selling it in canning jars. (The Kansan)