Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2012

Christmas and Xmas

I noticed an online acquaintance the other day becoming extremely agitated that someone had referred to Christmas using the colloquialism Xmas. She felt that this was insulting, and offensive in the extreme. What she didn't realize was that Xmas as a shortened form for Christmas has a venerable (and solidly Christian) history.
The word Christmas is a compound of Christ + mass; we see it first in Old English in the form Cristes m√ɦsse in 1038, according to the OED. The Old English form eventually evolved to the Middle English Christemasse. The word Christ is derived from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed,” a literal translation of the Hebrew cognate of messiah. Mass, as in the Christian ritual, derives from  Middle Englishmasse, fromOld Englishm√¶sse, fromVulgar Latin*messa, fromLate Latinmissa, fromLatin, feminine past participle ofmittere, to send away, dismiss.]


The X of Xmas is a shorthand way to refer to the name of Christ. In Greek, the language of the New Testament,…