c. 1200, messager (late 12c. as a surname), "one who bears a message; the bearer of a verbal or written communication," from Old French messagier "messenger, envoy, ambassador," from message (see message (n.)). With unetymological -n- inserted by c. 1300 for no apparent reason except that people liked to say it that way (compare passenger, harbinger, scavenger). From c. 1200 as "a harbinger, forerunner, precursor" (in reference to John the Baptist as the precursor of Christ).
updated on December 31, 2018