Attested in this form since 1755, and preceded by earlier forms such as X'temmas (1551) and Old English Χp̃es mæssa (1100), from Christmas, the abbreviation of Christ by the symbol 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 or Merriam-Webster dictionary for more information.
Xmas (plural Xmases)
- (informal) Abbreviation of Christmas.
- 1864 June 10, Carroll, Lewis, Cohen, Morton N., editor, The Letters of Lewis Carroll, 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.
- 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, Lewis, C. S., Hooper, Walter, editor, 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.
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.