Definition of halcyon in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhalsēən/


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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Flying around the Los Angeles area was still fun in those happy, halcyon days!
  • 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.
happy, golden, idyllic, carefree, blissful, joyful, joyous, contented;
flourishing, thriving, prosperous, successful;
serene, calm, tranquil, peaceful


1A tropical Asian and African kingfisher with brightly colored plumage.
  • Genus Halcyon, family Alcedinidae: many species.
Example sentences
  • The halcyon is a type of kingfisher that lays its eggs on the beach in winter.
  • Halcyons are solitary except when they are courting and raising a family.
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.
Example sentences
  • 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').

  • The halcyon was a bird that in medieval times was thought to breed in a nest floating on the sea, and to charm the wind and waves so that the sea was calm. It was identified as a kingfisher, most of which actually nest in riverbanks, and the word comes from the Greek term for a kingfisher, alkuōn. The halcyon days were originally 14 days of calm weather which were supposed to occur when the halcyon was breeding. Today the phrase refers to a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful, as in ‘those halcyon days when students received full government grants’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hal·cy·on

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