Where does the word ‘honeymoon’ come from?

It has nothing to do with bees, unfortunately.

Where does the word ‘honeymoon’ come from? © Getty Images

The tradition of couples taking a holiday after marriage most likely stems from the ‘bridal tours’ popular amongst the upper classes, combined with the rise of popular travel and tourism in the 1800s. The word itself, however, existed much earlier.

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, its origin was most likely a charming (if bleak) allusion to love, which “wanes steadily as the moon does”.

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One of the earliest uses, dating to a 1552 book, reveals that the word was thought to originate with “the vulgar people” and that it was “applied to such as be new married (which) loveth each other at the beginning exceedingly.