"pilgrim; itinerant monk going from shrine to shrine under a perpetual vow of poverty;" originally "pilgrim who has returned from the Holy Land," c. 1300, palmere (mid-12c. as a surname), from Anglo-French palmer (Old French palmier), from Medieval Latin palmarius, from Latin palma "palm tree" (see palm (n.2)). So called because they wore palm branches in commemoration of the journey. "The distinction between pilgrim and palmer seems never to have been closely observed" [Century Dictionary].
updated on December 22, 2019