Tips and Quips


"X" may mark the spot or may be the Greek letter "Chi"

December 13, 2013

In my efforts to avoid being too cliché, I went to look up synonyms for “anticipate”.  I did this because, well, it is Christmas time and face it, we spend a lot of this time in a constant state of anticipation.  Off I went to good ol’ www.dictionary.com.  As is often the case when I go to the dictionary, I became completely sidetracked.  See the following blog article from www.dictionary.com , I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

What Is the X in Xmas?

December 11, 2013 by: Dictionary.com blog in: Current Events

“Here’s a holiday surprise that only the dictionary can provide. Do you find the word “Xmas,” as an abbreviation for Christmas, offensive? Many people do.

You won’t find Xmas in church songbooks or even on many greeting cards. Xmas is popularly associated with a trend towards materialism, and sometimes the target of people who decry the emergence of general “holiday” observance instead of particular cultural and religious ritual.

But the history of the word “Xmas” is actually more respectable — and fascinating — than you might suspect. First of all, the abbreviation predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements. It was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.”  (The thought-provoking etymology of “mass” can be found at www.dictionary.com.) In the same vein, the dignified terms Xpian and Xtian have been used in place of the word “Christian.”

As lovers of the alphabet, we are transfixed by the flexibility of “X.” The same letter can represent the sacred, the profane (“rated X”), and the unknown (“X-ray“).”

Thought provoking fodder for this festive time of year!  Remember, it doesn’t matter how you spell Christmas as long as you keep the Christmas spirit in your hearts and not your wallets.


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