"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Friday, 20 March 2009


A watercolour entitled Halcyon Days by Anna O'Hara

Halcyon days are happy, sunny, care-free, idyllically calm and peaceful; suggestive of happy tranquillity; golden; marked by peace and prosperity.

This is strange in a way because the term comes from the mythological bird of Greek origins that was a transformation of the grieving Alcyone who, upon learning her husband was dead, became a kingfisher. In fact the meaning of the English word was influenced by the fabled bird because it was supposed to have had the power to calm the wind and the waves while it nested on the sea during the winter solstice.

This is the White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) (from RichardSeaman.com)


  1. If I heard that my husband was dead, I, too, would want to become a Kingfisher. That is very touching to me.
    That word, and explanation, is going in my book!

  2. But now I have to go to dictionary.com to learn how to pronounce it!

    Good word. (I've had those days.)


  3. Hello Don,
    I'm never really sure how you show pronounciation so I haven't tended to bother but if it helps this is 'Hal (as in the 2001 computer) see on'...

  4. Hi, I landed here somehow from The One-Minute-Writer... Funny, I don't think I ever came across the word halcyon until just a few days ago, and I was just wondering about it... Thanks for the explanation! (The word is used in Mary Norton's "Borrowers" books, which I'm reading for the first time in English; I read them in my childhood in Swedish translation!)