c. 1200, "a defined course of traveling; one's path in life," from Old French journée "a day's length; day's work or travel" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *diurnum "day," noun use of neuter of Latin diurnus "of one day" (from dies "day," from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine"). The French fem, suffix -ée, from Latin -ata, was joined to nouns in French to make nouns expressing the quantity contained in the original noun, and thus also relations of times (soirée, matinée, année) or objects produced.
Meaning "act of traveling by land or sea" is c. 1300. In Middle English it also meant "a day" (c. 1400); a day's work (mid-14c.); "distance traveled in one day" (mid-13c.), and as recently as Johnson (1755) the primary sense was still "the travel of a day." From the Vulgar Latin word also come Spanish jornada, Italian giornata.