Definition of halcyon in US English:



  • Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.

    ‘the halcyon days of the mid-1980s, when profits were soaring’
    • ‘In the 1930s, which was Motherwell's halcyon period, the team would have consisted almost entirely of local lads.’
    • ‘Anyone who remembers halcyon summers on the islands readily recalls the clackety clack noise of the looms that punctuated every 100 yards or so of a walk through any village.’
    • ‘However, at 47 and happily married for the third time, to Valerie, and with baby daughter Emma to care for, Faldo is preparing himself, albeit reluctantly, to grow more accustomed to talking about his halcyon feats.’
    • ‘It creates the foundation for a halcyon, innovation-driven investment expansion.’
    • ‘Mrs. E.'s kindergarten met in various buildings during those halcyon years before the drudgery of first grade claimed me.’
    • ‘At first merely uninteresting, the ploy eventually descends into slapstick comedy, undermining the prevailing halcyon tone of the work.’
    • ‘However, hopes Smith's comeback would signal a return to those halcyon days have not quite happened with the Hayton farmer suffering an ankle injury in pre-season.’
    • ‘The advantages for the children are overwhelming, of course - but that doesn't mean I don't miss the halcyon and bygone era of getting up past ten o'clock in the AM.’
    • ‘Changed days indeed and undoubtedly for the better, but I wonder if we're still being dragged down by romantic memories of the halcyon days of the past when it comes to assessing today's top horses.’
    • ‘Flying around the Los Angeles area was still fun in those happy, halcyon days!’
    • ‘In those halcyon days the unemployed stood in line, signed a chit, took the chit to another line, stood there till their turn at the desk, and were given unemployment benefit in cash.’
    • ‘Ah, it takes me back to those heady, halcyon days of 1999 when any idea that remotely involved the Web was funded to the gills in a matter of weeks.’
    • ‘Those were halcyon days for brokerages, which ramped up employment and beat the bushes for technology analysts who could help justify outrageous stock valuations.’
    • ‘At any rate, in those halcyon days before computers, Frank would type and affix the daily diary to the notice board by 6.30 am at the latest.’
    • ‘Whilst the halcyon days of the past are unlikely to return in the professional era, there are now at least some encouraging signs of a revival in the fortunes of these once great clubs.’
    • ‘So I can totally understand why someone would want to recapture this halcyon period.’
    • ‘But he then finishes with another halcyon image of his childhood, among nature, where he was only ever truly happy.’
    • ‘But as it lumbers along, you find yourself warming to them and their story, and perhaps even joining them in hankering after those halcyon days of the early 1970s.’
    • ‘With no firm ideology, swinging like a pendulum from one side to another the brief period of halcyon days in my life passed just like the sand slips out off the hands.’
    • ‘The easy money of the region's halcyon days is gone.’
    serene, calm, pleasant, balmy, tranquil, peaceful, temperate, mild, quiet, gentle, placid, still, windless, stormless
    happy, carefree, blissful, golden, joyful, joyous, contented, idyllic, palmy
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  • 1A tropical Asian and African kingfisher with brightly colored plumage.

    Genus Halcyon, family Alcedinidae: many species

    • ‘Halcyons are solitary except when they are courting and raising a family.’
    • ‘The halcyon is a type of kingfisher that lays its eggs on the beach in winter.’
  • 2A mythical bird said by ancient writers to breed in a nest floating at sea at the winter solstice, charming the wind and waves into calm.

    • ‘The halcyon, a mythical bird, is said to have laid its eggs in the nautilus' shell.’
    • ‘Here he sings of the halcyon, the mythical bird that was supposed to breed on the calm surface of the sea in mid-winter.’


Late Middle English (in the mythological sense): via Latin from Greek alkuōn ‘kingfisher’ (also halkuōn, by association with hals ‘sea’ and kuōn ‘conceiving’).