Brewer's: Moon

means “measurer” of time (Anglo-Saxon, móna, masc. gen.). It is masculine in all the Teutonic languages; in the Edda the son of Mundilfori is Mâni (moon), and daughter Sôl (sun); so it is still with the Lithuanians and Arabians, and so was it with the ancient Mexicans, Slavi, Hindus, etc.; so that it was a most unlucky dictum of Harris, in his Hermes, that all nations ascribe to the Sun a masculine, and to the Moon a feminine gender. (Gothic, mena, masc.; Sanskrit, mâs, masc., from mâ, to measure.) The Sanskrit mâtram is an instrument for measuring; hence Greek metron; French, metre; English, meter.

The Germans have Frau Sonne (Mrs. Sun) and Herr Mond (Mr. Moon).

represented in five different phases: (1) new; (2) full; (3) crescent or decrescent; (4) half; and (5) gibbous, or more than half.

in pictures of the Assumption of the Virgin, is represented as a crescent under her feet; in the Crucifixion it is eclipsed, and placed on one side of the cross, the sun being on the other; in the Creation and Last Judgment it is also introduced by artists.

The moon before she has risen and after she has set. Astarte. The crescent moon, “the moon with crescent horns.” Diana. The moon in the open vault of heaven, who “hunts the clouds.” Cynthia. Same as Diana.

Selene or Luna.
The moon personified, properly the full moon, who loved the sleeping Endymion. Endymion. Moonlight on a bank, field, or garden.

“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!”

Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, v. 1.

The moon as the sister of the sun. (See Astarte, Ashtaroth, etc.). Moon. Astolpho found treasured in the moon everything wasted on this earth, such as misspent time and wealth, broken vows, unanswered prayers, fruitless tears, abortive attempts, unfulfilled desires and intentions, etc. All bribes were hung on gold and silver hooks; prince's favours were kept in bellows; wasted talent was kept in vases, each marked with the proper name; etc. Orlando Furioso, bk. xviii. (See Rape of the Lock, c. v.)

(See under Mahomet.)

The moon is called “triform,”
because it presents itself to us either round, or waxing with horns towards the east, or waning with horns towards the west.

Island of the moon.
Madagascar is so named by the natives. Minions of the moon. Thieves who rob by night. (See 1 Henry IV., i. 2.) Mountains of the Moon means simply White Mountains. The Arabs call a white horse “moon-coloured.” (Jackson.)

He cries for the moon.
He craves to have what is wholly beyond his reach. The allusion is to foolish children who want the moon for a plaything. The French say “He wants to take the moon between his teeth” (“Il veut prendre la lune avec les dents”), alluding to the old proverb about “the moon,” and a “green cheese.”

To cast beyond the moon.
To make extravagant conjectures; to cast your thoughts or guesses beyond all reason.

To level at the moon.
To be very ambitious; to aim in shooting at the moon. You have found an elephant in the moon—found a mare's nest. Sir Paul Neal, a conceited virtuoso of the seventeenth century, gave out that he had discovered “an elephant in the moon.” It turned out that a mouse had crept into his telescope, which had been mistaken for an elephant in the moon. Samuel Butler has a satirical poem on the subject called The Elephant in the Moon.

You would have me believe, I suppose, that the moon is a green cheese
- i.e. the most absurd thing possible. A green cheese is a cream cheese which is eaten green or fresh, and is not kept to mature like other cheeses.

Man in the moon.
(See Man.)

Hares sacred to the moon,
not because Diana was a great huntress, but because the Hindus affirm that the outline of a hare is distinctly visible on the moon.

Once in a blue moon.
(See Blue.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894

Related Content