Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
c.1200, "glory, renown, fame earned," from Anglo-French honour, Old French honor (Modern French honneur), from Latin honorem (nominative honos, later honor) "honor, dignity, office, reputation," of unknown origin. Till 17c., honour and honor were equally frequent; the former now preferred in England, the latter in U.S. by influence of Noah Webster's spelling reforms. Meaning "a woman's chastity" first attested late 14c. Honors "distinction in scholarship" attested by 1782. Honor roll in the scholastic sense attested by 1872. To do the honors (1650s) originally meant the customary civilities and courtesies at a public entertainment, etc.
mid-13c., honuren, "to do honor to," from Old French honorer, from Latin honorare, from honor (see honor (n.)). In the commercial sense of "accept a bill due, etc.," it is recorded from 1706. Related: Honored; honoring.
A custom more honoured in the breach than the observance. Whoever will look up the passage (Hamlet I. iv. 16) will see that it means, beyond a doubt, a custom that one deserves more honour for breaking than for keeping: but it is often quoted in the wrong & very different sense of a dead letter or rule more often broken than kept. [Fowler]