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See also: X-mas


1910 postcard
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Alternative forms[edit]


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


Pronounced as either Christmas or X-mas:

  • enPR: krĭs'məs, ĕks'məs, IPA(key): /ˈkɹɪs.məs/, /ˈɛks.məs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: (homophone of Christmas) -ɪsməs
  • Homophone: Christmas

Proper noun[edit]

Xmas (countable and uncountable, plural Xmases or Xmasses)

  1. (informal) Abbreviation of Christmas.
    • 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...
    • 1774 December 20, David Garrick, “Letters from David Garrick, to George Colman, the Elder”, in George Colman, the Younger, editor, Posthumous Letters, from Various Celebrated Men; Addressed to Francis Colman, and George Colman, the Elder: [], London: T[homas] Cadell and W[illiam] Davies, []; and W[illiam] Blackwood, Edinburgh, published 1820, page 302:
      A thousand thanks, merry Xmasses & happy New Years to you for yr delightful letter: []
    • 1801 December 31, Samuel Coleridge, “letter to R. Southey”, Ten Letters from Coleridge to Southey, in The Atlantic Monthly, volume 73, number 435, published 1894 January, 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 Rowland E. Prothero, 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, “Gad's Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent”, in Laurence Hutton, 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, edited by Morton N. Cohen, The Letters of Lewis Carroll[1], 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”, in 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.
    • 1884, Louise Chandler Moulton, “John Jay’s Journey. A New Year’s Story.”, in Christian Advocate, volume 31, number 1 (whole 1483), New Orleans, La.: [] [T]he Louisiana, Mississippi and North Mississippi Conferences, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, published 1885 January 1, page 2, column 2:
      They used to keep merry Xmasses with us in the old days when Xmas was merry, and now they come back and we share our Christmas dainties with them against our will.
    • 1885 December 10, Carlyle Smith, “Our Xmas at Windsor”, in Life, volume 6, number 154, New York, page 338:
      [] as well as give the Imperial spree a notice next to reading matter in the Xmas issue []
    • 1897 January 10, Aubrey [Thomas] de Vere, “[Last Years, 1886-1902] Aubrey de Vere to Walter George Smith”, in Wilfrid Ward, Aubrey de Vere: A Memoir, Based on His Unpublished Diaries and Correspondence, London, New York, N.Y., Bombay: Longmans, Green, and Co. [], published 1904, page 400:
      I was greatly pleased at receiving yours, and those of your sisters, and I did not think them at all too late; for as several of the Church Festivals have their ‘Octave’ so the chief mysteries of the Faith carry a glory around their heads that sends their light in a wide circle, like the halo round the head of a pictured Saint; and so I send my ‘Many Happy Xmasses’ and ‘Many Happy New Years’ to you and yours.
    • 1897 December, Standard American Publishing Co., “A Xmas gift for one dollar [advertisement]”, in The American Monthly Illustrated Review of Reviews, volume 16, number 95, page 49:
    • 1913 November 18, C. S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Family Letters, 1905-1931, New York: HarperCollins, published 2004, →ISBN, 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.
    • 1968 December 21, Richard Burton, journal; quoted in Melvyn Bragg, “1968”, in Richard Burton: A Life, Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, 1988, →ISBN, pages 278–279:
      We’re off to Gstaad today until the sth of Jan. We have chartered a large plane, I’m not quite sure what it is but it seats about 16 and is a turbo-jet. The reason is that we have so many people coming with us: Sarah, Michael, Chris, Liza, Maria, Caroline, John Something-or-other who is Simmy’s boy friend from Hawaii, and our two bad selves. Otherwise it’s going to be one of those quiet, pipe-smoking, slippered, log-fired Xmasses with a well-loved and well-remembered volume of Dickens.

Derived terms[edit]


Xmas (third-person singular simple present Xmases or Xmasses, present participle Xmasing or Xmassing, simple past and past participle Xmased or Xmassed)

  1. (informal) Abbreviation of Christmas.
    • 1764 January 9, Josiah Wedgwood, private correspondence; quoted in Eliza Meteyard, The Life of Josiah Wedgwood, from His Private Correspondence and Family Papers [], volume I, London: Hurst and Blackett, [], 1865, page 333:
      N:Castle (Xmassing and wanted at play)
    • 1788 January 3, Court Dewes, “Court Dewes, Esq., to Miss Port, at Windsor”, in Lady Llanover [i.e., Augusta Hall, Baroness Llanover], editor, The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany: With Interesting Reminiscences of King George the Third and Queen Charlotte, second series, volume III, London: Richard Bentley, [], published 1862, page 469:
      I wd not have you think yt we have no Xmassing here; we have had as large a round of dinners at Pau as we could have at Welsbourn (tho perhaps (to me) not quite so pleasant).
    • 1884 December 6, “Essence of Parliament”, in Punch, or The London Charivari, volume LXXXVII, number 2265, London: [] [T]he Office, [], page 268:
      Barking, Saturday, Nov. 29. / Dear and Respected Master, / Excusez mafranchise,” but “Essence of Parliament” is this week represented by xx, and that’s the reason Y. So no more at present from Your fond and faithful Toby. / “Confound his algebraical impudence!” exclaimed Mr. Punch. “He’s beginning Xmassing already. When he returns, I shall make Master Toby sit up.”
    • 1905 January 4, “[County Correspondence.] Commissary.”, in Boone County Recorder, volume XXX, number 12, Burlington, Ky., front page, column 2:
      Charles Snelling and wife, of Belleview, Xmased with father and mother Snelling, of Rock Spring.
    • 1916 December 28, Dorothy Seymour, journal; quoted in Anne Powell, “[1916 – Dardanelles, Persia, Romania, Russia and Mesopotamia] Miss Dorothy Seymour: Anglo-Russian Hospital, Petrograd, Russia”, in Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War, Stroud, Glos.: The History Press, 2009, →ISBN, page 304:
      We have Xmassed and are still doing so. We had an awful Xmas dinner that took hours, the whole staff dining together, which as we saw each other all day and every day was most funereal as no one could think of anything to say to each other.
    • 1923 January, “[Two Bits: A Bit Here, A Bit There] News Items”, in Distribution & Warehousing, volume XXII, number 1, New York, N.Y.: The Class Journal Co., page 47:
      Barrett Gilbert, the Gotham storager, has gifted us with a refiller for the desk pad he Xmased us with a yr ago, with gold edges.
    • 1958 January 4, “Through The Coin Chute: New England Nibbles”, in The Cash Box, volume XIX, number 16, New York, N.Y.: The Cash Box Publishing Co., Inc., page 54:
      Ruthie Shapiro, record promoting for Eileen Rodgers, Columbia recording’ artist, Xmased deejays with playing cards backed with Eileen’s photo, cute gimmick, also her famous green writing ball point pens.
    • 1963 January 3, “Bill Smallwood”, in California Eagle, volume LXXXIII, number 42, Los Angeles, Calif., page 7:
      Alfreda Ferrell and her three children Xmased in Chica.
    • 1986, James Ramsey, Getting High in the Himalayas, New York, N.Y.: Carlton Press, Inc., →ISBN, page 101:
      On a balmy afternoon an American couple (hardware store in Ohio) were strolling down a street in Kathmandu. She, in a trendy strolling suit. He, in bermuda short and an aloha shirt. (They had Xmased in Hawaii.)
    • 2009, Sidney Greenbaum, Gerald Nelson, “[English in use] English in emails and text messages”, in An Introduction to English Grammar, 3rd edition, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, N.Y.: Routledge, published 2013, →ISBN, part II (The Applications), page 180:
      Text messages are noted for their abbreviations, though in fact many of those that are used are already standard abbreviations in written English. The difference is that they are sometimes used in text messages in slightly different – and sometimes very creative – contexts. Here are some examples: / I’ll send it this pm. (= afternoon) / Put yer ft. up. (= feet) / So, you’ll be Xmassing in France?? (= ‘spending Christmas in France’)

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.