Word Origin & History
1727, from Fr. morganatique, from M.L. matrimonium ad morganaticam "marriage of the morning," probably from O.H.G. *morgangeba (M.H.G. morgengabe) "morning gift," corresponding to O.E. morgengifu (see morn
+ gift). In an unequal marriage between a man of royal blood and a common
woman, this was a gift traditionally given to the wife on the morning after consummation, representing the only share she and her children may claim in the husband's estate. Also known as left-handed marriage, because the groom gives the bride his left hand instead of his right, but sometimes this latter term is used of a class of marriage (esp. in Germany) where the spouse of inferior rank is not elevated, but the children inherit rights of succession.