AskDefine | Define honeymoon

Dictionary Definition



1 a holiday taken by a newly married couple
2 the early usually calm and harmonious period of a relationship; business or political v : spend a holiday after one's marriage; "they plan to honeymoon in Hawai'i"

User Contributed Dictionary



Disputed. Theories (in order of likelihood):
  1. Compares, in a cynical fashion, a full moon to the love of a newly married couple, which is sweetest (as honey) before it begins to wane. (16th century)
  2. Refers to a tradition of giving a newly married couple mead (a honey-based alcoholic drink) to be consumed during the first month of marriage.



honeymoon (plural: honeymoons)
  1. The period of time immediately following a marriage.
  2. A trip taken by a newly married couple during this period.
  3. A period of unusually good feelings, especially immediately following the start of a new relationship (e.g., in business). Now that the honeymoon is over, it’s time for us to get down to the business at hand.


period of time immediately following a marriage
  • Czech: líbánky
  • Danish: hvedebrødsdage
  • Finnish: kuherruskuukausi
  • French: lune de miel
  • German: Flitterwochen
  • Greek: μήνας του μέλιτος (mínas tou mélitos)
  • Hungarian: mézeshetek
  • Italian: luna di miele
  • Japanese: (, mitsugetsu)
  • Russian: медовый месяц
trip taken by a newly married couple
  • Czech: svatební cesta
  • Danish: bryllupsrejse
  • Finnish: häämatka
  • Greek: μήνας του μέλιτος (mínas tou mélitos)
  • Hungarian: nászút
  • Italian: viaggio di nozze
  • Japanese: (, shinkon ryokō), (hanemūn)
  • Norwegian: bryllupsreise
  • Russian: свадебное путешествие
  • Spanish: luna de miel
period of unusually good feelings
  • Finnish: kuherruskuukausi
  • Hungarian: mézeshetek
  • Russian: медовый месяц

Extensive Definition

A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in intimacy and seclusion. Today, honeymoons by Westerners are sometimes celebrated somewhere exotic or otherwise considered special and romantic.


In Western culture, the custom of a newlywed couple going on a holiday together originated in early 19th century Great Britain. Upper-class couples would take a "bridal tour", sometimes accompanied by friends or family, to visit relatives that had not been able to attend the wedding. The practice soon spread to the European continent and was known as voyage à la façon anglaise (English-style voyage) in France from the 1820s on.
Honeymoons in the modern sense (i.e. a pure holiday voyage undertaken by the married couple) became widespread during the Belle Époque, as one of the first instances of modern mass tourism. This came about in spite of initial disapproval by contemporary medical opinion (which worried about women's frail health) and by savoir vivre guidebooks (which deplored the public attention drawn to what was assumed to be the wife's sexual initiation). The most popular honeymoon destinations at the time were the Côte d'Azur and Italy, particularly its seaside resorts and romantic cities such as Rome, Verona or Venice.

Origin of the word

The Oxford English Dictionary offers no etymology, but gives examples dating back to the 16th century. The Merriam-Webster dictionary reports the etymology as from "the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest" (1546).
A honeymoon can also be the first moments a newly-wed couple spend together, or the first holiday they spend together to celebrate their marriage.
One of the more recent citations in the Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, while today honeymoon has a positive meaning, the word was originally a reference to the inevitable waning of love like a phase of the moon. This, the first known literary reference to the honeymoon, was penned in 1552, in Richard Huloet's Abecedarium Anglico Latinum. Huloet writes:
In many parts of Europe it was traditional to supply a newly married couple with enough mead for a month, ensuring happiness and fertility. From this practice we get honeymoon or, as the French say, lune de miel
There are many calques of the word honeymoon from English into other languages. The Welsh word for honeymoon is mis mêl (honey month). In Hebrew it is 'Yerach D'vash translated to honey month (interestingly the word 'Yerach'-Month is very close to the word 'Yare'ach'-Moon. The two words are spelled alike: ירח). In Arabic it is shahr el 'assal also translated to honey month. The Spanish word for honeymoon is la luna de miel (the moon of honey), and the Italian luna di miele (same translation). The Persian word for it is mah e asal which has both the translations honeymoon and honey month (mah in Persian meaning both moon and month).


honeymoon in Arabic: شهر عسل
honeymoon in Danish: Hvedebrødsdage
honeymoon in German: Flitterwochen
honeymoon in Spanish: Luna de miel
honeymoon in French: Lune de miel
honeymoon in Hebrew: ירח דבש
honeymoon in Indonesian: Bulan madu
honeymoon in Italian: Luna di miele
honeymoon in Japanese: 新婚旅行
honeymoon in Lithuanian: Medaus mėnuo
honeymoon in Dutch: Huwelijksreis
honeymoon in Polish: Miesiąc miodowy
honeymoon in Portuguese: Lua-de-mel
honeymoon in Ukrainian: Медовий місяць
honeymoon in Chinese: 蜜月

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Gretna Green wedding, banns, bridal, bridal suite, bridechamber, chuppah, church wedding, civil ceremony, civil wedding, elopement, epithalamium, espousals, espousement, forced marriage, hymen, hymeneal, hymeneal rites, marriage, nuptial apartment, nuptial mass, nuptial song, nuptials, prothalamium, saffron veil, shotgun wedding, spousals, wedding, wedding canopy, wedding song, wedding veil
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