Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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honeymoon today means a happy trip taken by a couple shortly after they are married. However, when the word “honeymoon” first appeared in the mid-sixteenth century, it had sardonic implications. The “honey” part of the compound, as one might expect, alluded to the sweetness of a new conjugal union. The “moon” part, however, was intended to undercut those sweet associations by implying that the joy of the couple was fleeting: it would soon wane, just as the full moon grows smaller with every passing night. This use of the word is clearly evident in a poem called “Cornucopiae” published by William Fennor in 1612. The “jovial time” of the poem’s newlyweds is compared to a “honey-moon” that quickly turns from “clear” to “tenebrous”: