Monday, May 29, 2006
"The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure" (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly-married couple, before settling down at home.
One of the oldest citations in the Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, while today honeymoon has a positive meaning, the word was actually a sardonic reference to the inevitable waning of love like a phase of the moon. This, the first literary reference to the honeymoon was penned in 1552, in Richard Huloet's Abecedarium Anglico Latinum. Huleot writes:
Hony mone, a terme proverbially applied to such as be newe maried, whiche wyll not fall out at the fyrste, but thone loveth the other at the beginnynge excedyngly, the likelyhode of theyr exceadynge love appearing to aswage, ye which time the vulgar people cal the hony mone.
Or, in modern English:
Honeymoon, a term proverbially applied to the newly-married, who will not fall out (quarrel) at first, but they love the other at the beginning exceedingly, the likelihood of their exceeding love appearing to assuage [any quarrels]; this time is commonly called the honeymoon.