Xmas

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English[edit]

1910 postcard
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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Attested in this form since 1755, and preceded by earlier forms such as X'temmas (1551) and Old English Χp̃es mæssa (1100), from Christmas, replacing Christ by the abbreviation X, from Ancient Greek Χ (Kh, (letter chi)), from Χριστός (Khristós, Christ). Surface analysis X (Christ) +‎ -mas (holiday). In popular use since late 19th century. See Wikipedia for more information.

Pronunciation[edit]

Pronounced either as Christmas or as X+-mas:

  • enPR: /krĭs'məs/, /eks'məs/, IPA(key): /ˈkrɪs.məs/, /ˈɛks.məs/

Noun[edit]

Xmas (plural Xmases)

  1. (informal) Abbreviation of Christmas.
    • c. 1100, Earle, John editor, Two of the Saxon chronicles parallel[1], Oxford: Clarendon, published 1892, page 235:
      1100. On þison geare se cyng Willelm heold his hired to Χp̃es mæssa on Gleaweceastre. to Eastron on Winceastre. ⁊ to Pentecosten on Westmynstre.
      1100. In this year the King William held his court at Xmas in Glocester, and at Easter in Winchester, and at Pentecost in Westminster.
    • c. 1755, Bernard Ward, History of St. Edmund's college, Old Hall, page 303:
      In ye Xmas and Whitsuntide Vacations, ye Scholars study at a rate of an hour and a Quarter each day & all yt go home have proportionable Tasks set them...
    • 1801 December 31, Samuel Coleridge, “Ten Letters from Coleridge to Southey”, The Atlantic Monthly, volume 73, number 435, page 66: 
      On Xmas Day I breakfasted with Davy, with the intention of dining with you...
    • 1811 September 9, George Gordon Byron, “To the Hon. Augusta Leigh”, in Prothero, Rowland E. editor, The Works of Lord Byron, volume 9, London: John Murray, published 1898, page 31:
      [] but if you won't come here before Xmas, I very much fear we shall not meet here at all []
    • 1861 June 23, Charles Dickens, Hutton, Laurence editor, Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins, New York: Harper & Brothers, published 1892, page 100:
      My dear Wilkie,—we will arrange our Xmas No., please God, under the shade of the Oak Trees.
    • 1864 June 10, Lewis Carroll, Cohen, Morton N. editor, The Letters of Lewis Carroll[2], volume 1, London: Macmillan, published 1979, page 65:
      I should be very glad if you could help me in fixing on a name for my fairy-tale, which Mr. Tenniel (in consequence of your kind introduction) is now illustrating for me, and which I hope to get published before Xmas.
    • 1879 November 13, W. F. C., “Our London Letter”, The American Stationer, volume 7, number 46, page 2: 
      A Xmas card is a pleasant memento of a season of good will and kindly sentiment. It is a reminiscence of Xmas time. With Xmas we associate happy gatherings of friends, wintry skies without and cheerful hearths within, ice and snow to be kept in subjugation by warmth of disposition and genial affection. The Xmas cards ought to embody such traits, physical and mental.
    • 1885 December 10, Carlyle Smith, “Our Xmas at Windsor”, Life, volume 6, number 154, page 338: 
      [] as well as give the Imperial spree a notice next to reading matter in the Xmas issue []
    • 1897 December, Standard American Publishing Co., “A Xmas gift for one dollar [advertisement]”, The American Monthly Illustrated Review of Reviews, volume 16, number 95, page 49: 
    • 1913 November 18, C. S. Lewis, Hooper, Walter editor, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Family Letters, 1905-1931, New York: HarperCollins, ISBN 9780060727635, published 2004, page 41:
      Don't let us spoil the Xmas holidays by a chore as colossal as it is disagreeable, and as disagreeable as it is unnecessary.

Usage notes[edit]

Discouraged in formal usage, and as of late 20th century considered disrespectful by some Christians, due to the absence of the word Christ.

See Xmas: Style guides and etiquette for further discussion.

Anagrams[edit]