Middle English hony, from Old English hunig "honey," from Proto-Germanic *hunang- (source also of Old Norse hunang, Swedish honung, Old Saxon honeg, Old Frisian hunig, Middle Dutch honich, Dutch honig, Old High German honang, German Honig "honey"), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a PIE *k(e)neko- denoting yellow, golden, or brownish colors (compare Sanskrit kancan- "golden," Welsh canecon "gold," Greek knēkos "yellowish"), or perhaps from a substratum word. Finnish hunaja is a Germanic loan-word.
The more common Indo-European word is represented in Germanic by the Gothic word for "honey," miliþ (from PIE root *melit- "honey"). A term of endearment from at least mid-14c.; extended form honey-bunch attested by 1904. Meaning "anything good of its kind" is 1888, American English. Honey-locust, North American tree, so called from 1743, said to be named from a sweet pulp made by Native Americans from the tree's beans.