mid-13c., "portable sanctuary carried by the Israelites in the wilderness," from Old French tabernacle "the Jewish Tabernacle; tent, canopy; tomb, monument" (12c.), from Latin tabernaculum "tent," especially "a tent of an augur" (for taking observations), diminutive of taberna "hut, cabin, booth" (see tavern).
Use of the word in English transferred late 14c. to the Temple in Jerusalem (which continued its function). Sense of "house of worship" first recorded 1690s. Also in Biblical language, "the body as the temporary abode of the soul" (late 14c.). The Old Testament Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (mid-October) was observed as a thanksgiving for harvest. This was rendered in English c. 1400 as Feste of Logges ("lodges"). Related: Tabernacular.