• honeymoon •
hên-i-mun • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A vacation taken by the bride and groom following their wedding. 2. A period of grace and good will at the beginning of a business or political relationship.
Notes: Today's Good Word is an especially sweet member of the English vocabulary, referring to one of the most enjoyable periods of a person's life. The noun may be used as a verb, parallel to the noun vacation: to honeymoon for a week on the Isle of Ewe.
In Play: Honeymoons are basically holidays for newlyweds: "Newlyweds William Arami and Marian Kine spent their honeymoon at the bingo tables of Las Vegas." However, we may extend the idea of holiday to a period of cooperation extended to a new leader by coworkers and opponents: "The president was allowed no honeymoon after being sworn into office but immediately came under attack by his opponents."
Word History: The history of this word is one of historical erosion. Deuteronomy 24:5 grants newlyweds a year to enjoy their new relationship: "When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business, but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken." By the time words for this holiday began to emerge, however, it was limited to a month. Hebrew yerach dvash "honey month" (today yarayach dvash "honey moon"), Russian medovyi mesec, and Welsh mis mêl "honey month" make it clear that honeymoons are intended to be vacations of the sweetest sort. Polish miesiac miodowy may be translated as "honey month" or "honey moon" but French lune de miel and English honeymoon add their sweetener only to the moon. German Flitterwochen "tinsel weeks" leaves the exact number of weeks open and, as we all know, the time line today is closer to a week than a month. (We wish the sweetest of honeymoons to Claudia Hackett for suggesting today's Good Word, whether already enjoyed or to be enjoyed.)
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