Where does the word "holiday" come from?


The word "holiday" originated in English in the 16th century and traces its origins back to the 12th century word "haliday." "Haliday" itself traces its origins back to the old English word "haligdæg," meaning "holy day" or "Sabbath," explains the Online Etymology Dictionary.

"Haligdæg" originates from the combination of "halig," meaning "holy," and "dæg," meaning "day." The word implied both "religious festival" and "day of celebration" as late as the 14th century, but by the 16th century the meaning had changed to imply just a day of celebration, with no religious connotations. By the 19th century, "holiday" had also assumed the form of a verb, meaning "to pass the holidays." The common phrase "happy holidays" also originated during the mid-19th century.

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