The origins of the words “Bride” and “Groom”

April 21, 2017

 

The world of weddings is full of interesting words, traditions, symbols, and superstitions. Some of the customs we use nowadays are quite old, while others are relatively new. In my blog, I would like to invite the soon-to-be-married couples to share why they do certain things in preparation for their wedding, what family traditions they remember, and what symbolic and historic elements they are planning to include during the Big Day itself.

 

But, let’s start with the essentials: why do we call a bride, “bride” and a groom, “groom”? Where do these words come from?

 

The Language Linguistics Conlangs Blog (http://languagelinguisticsconlangs.blogspot.com/2010/02/etymology-bride-and-groom.html) gives a clear and concise explanation:

 

“ The word "groom" dates from 1604, and is a shortened form of "bridegroom". Bridegroom comes to us via Old English brydguma meaning "suitor" and is a compound of the words bryd, "bride", and guma, "man". Bryd is the ancestor of the word bride, guma is the root of the Latin word homo, meaning "human". 
The modern form of ”groom” is a modification resulting from folk etymology comparing it to groom, meaning "male child, boy, youth".
The combination bridegroom is commonplace in Germanic languages.

“Bride, meaning "bride, betrothed or newly married woman”, derives from Proto-Indo European *bru, - meaning "to cook, brew, make broth", as in those days that was traditionally the daughter-in-law's job. This is believed to have happened because, traditionally, the new bride lived with her husband's family, making the only "newly wed females" in the household the daughters-in-law.” 

 

While 400+ years for existence of these terms is a long time, the Italian analogues are at least 2000 years older!

 

The Italian synonym for “bride” is “sposa”, and for the groom is “sposo” -- words coming from Latin “sponsa” and “sponso” (coming in turn from Ancient Greek☺). The meaning of these words was:  “definitely promised” (to someone), and they were widely used in Ancient Rome.


Today, bride & groom and sposa & sposo symbolise a happy couple, new beginnings, joy, and love! They are definitely associated with various festivities, flowers, beautiful dresses, families and friends, good food, and great music. In other words – with a wedding!

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