English edit

Pronunciation edit

Etymology 1 edit

The proper noun is derived from Middle English Cristemasse, Criste-mas (Christmas Day; season of Christmas; Christmas festivities) [and other forms],[1] from Old English Cristes mæsse (Christmas, literally Christ’s mass), from Crist (Christ) + -es (possessive marker) + mæsse (a mass (celebration of the Eucharist)). The English word is analysable as Christ +‎ -mas (suffix denoting a holiday or sacred day).[2]

The noun, adjective, and verb[3] are derived from the proper noun.

Adjective sense 1 (“red and green in colour”) refers to these colours being traditionally associated with Christmas.

Proper noun edit

Christmas (countable and uncountable, plural Christmases or Christmasses) (also attributive)

  1. (originally Christianity) A festival or holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ and incorporating various Christian, pre-Christian, pagan, and secular customs, which in Western Christianity is celebrated on December 25 (Christmas Day) in most places.
    Synonyms: (Britain, slang, humorous) Chrimble, (Britain, slang, humorous) Chrimbo, (Australia, slang) Chrissy, (Britain, slang, humorous) Crimble, (Britain, slang, humorous) Crimbo, Noel, Yule
    Do you celebrate Christmas?
    This Christmas we’ll open presents, then go to grandma’s for dinner.
    • [[15th century] (date written), “A Caroll Bringyng in the Bores Heed”, in [Christmasse Carolles], London: [] Wynkyn de Worde, published 1521, →OCLC; republished in Joseph Ames, Typographical Antiquities: Being a Historical Account of Printing in England: [], London: [] W[illiam] Faden, and sold by J. Robinson, [], 1749, →OCLC, page 96, column 2:
      Be gladde, lordes, bothe more and lasse, / For this hath ordeyned our stewarde / To chere you all this christmasse / The bores heed with mustarde.]
    • 1569, Richard Grafton, “Henry the Eyght”, in A Chronicle at Large, and Meere History of the Affayres of Englande, [], London: [] Henry Denham, [], for Richarde Tottle and Humffrey Toye, →OCLC; republished in Grafton’s Chronicle; or, History of England. [], volume II, London: [] [George Woodfall] for J[oseph] Johnson;  [], 1809, →OCLC, page 386:
      In this Winter was great death in London, wherefore the Terme was adiorned, and the king for to eschue the plague, kept his Christmasse at Eltham with a small number, for no man might come thether, but such as were appoynted by name: this Christmas in the kings house, was called the still Christmasse.
    • 1599 (first performance; published 1600), Thomas Dekker, “The Shomakers Holiday. Or The Gentle Craft. []. To All Good Fellowes, Professors of the Gentle Craft; of what Degree Soeuer.”, in The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker [], volume I, London: John Pearson [], published 1873, →OCLC, page 3:
      Kinde Gentlemen, and honeſt Companions, I preſent you here with a merrie conceited Comedie, called the Shoomakers Holyday, acted by my Lorde Admiralls Players this preſent Chriſtmaſſe, before the Queenes moſt excellent Maieſtie.
    • 1622, Francis, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban [i.e. Francis Bacon], The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh, [], London: [] W[illiam] Stansby for Matthew Lownes, and William Barret, →OCLC, page 191:
      Hereupon a Peace vvas concluded, vvhich vvas publiſhed a little before Chriſtmaſſe, in the Fourteenth yeare of the Kings Raigne, to continue for both the Kings liues, and the ouer-liuer of them, and a yeare after.
    • 1623, M. N. [pseudonym; William Camden], “Certaine Prouerbes, Poemes or Poesies, Epigrammes, Rhythmes, and Epitaphs of the English Nation in Former Times, and Some of This Present Age”, in Remaines, Concerning Britaine: [], 3rd edition, London: [] Nicholas Okes, for Simon Waterson, [], →OCLC, page 267:
      Chriſtmaſſe commeth but once a yeere.
    • 1697, William Dampier, chapter III, in A New Voyage Round the World. [], London: [] James Knapton, [], →OCLC, page 56:
      [T]heſe Ships [] meet vvith Privateers, vvho reſort hither in the aforeſaid months [May to August], purpoſely to keep a Chriſtmas as they call it; being ſure to meet vvith Liquor enough to be merry vvith, and are very liberal to thoſe that treat them.
      Used to refer to a period of festivity during a different time of the year.
    • 1712 August 17 (Gregorian calendar), [Richard Steele], “WEDNESDAY, August 6, 1712”, in The Spectator, number 450; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume V, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page 220:
      [] I was always grateful for the sum of my week's profit, and at Christmas for that of the whole year.
      The spelling has been modernized.
    • 1798 July, “Account of Lincoln’s Inn: With a Perspective View of the Hall and Chapel”, in The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure; [], volume CIII, London: [] W[illiam] Bent, [], →OCLC, page 42, column 2:
      The lord chancellor holds his fittings in this hall, and in former days, like the Temple, it had its revels and great Chriſtmaſſes. [] The account of the great feaſt in the hall of the Inner Temple, by the ſerjeants, in 1555, is extremely worth conſulting: and alſo of the hoſpitable Chriſtmaſſes of old times.
    • 1820 January 1, Geoffrey Crayon [pseudonym; Washington Irving], “Christmas Eve”, in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., number V, New York, N.Y.: [] C. S. Van Winkle, [], →OCLC, page 379:
      [A] great deal of revelry was permitted, and even encouraged, by the squire, throughout the twelve days of Christmas, provided every thing was done comformably to ancient usage. [] [T]he Yule clog, and Christmas candle, were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe, with its white berries, hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.
    • 1840 January, Sylvanus Swanquill [pseudonym; John Hewitt], “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”, in The New Sporting Magazine, volume XVIII, number 105, London: Walter Spiers, [], →OCLC, page 53:
      “Lawk!” says our old granddam, who has taken the liberty of looking over our manuscript while we were gone to mix a glass of water and something. “Lawk!” says she, “how can you write such stuff? Christmas, indeed! you’ve no Christmas now. Do you call this Christmas? It’s more like a vapour bath. Such weather! Lawk, how times are changed! the Christmasses I remember! the good, old-fashioned Christmasses, when there was snow on the ground six feet deep, and poor people were starved to death by dozens, and you couldn’t go out without having your fingers frost-bitten, and coals were at six shillings a hundred, and canals froze up so that you couldn’t get your goods, and the roads all impassable, and daren’t ask a few friends to merrymake for fear of losing three or four of ’em going home in snow-drifts, and—oh, those were Christmasses! we shall never see such times again!”
    • 1843 December 19, Charles Dickens, “Stave Five. The End of It.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, [], →OCLC, page 166:
      [I]t was always said of him [Ebenezer Scrooge], that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed this knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
    • 1850, [Alfred, Lord Tennyson], In Memoriam, London: Edward Moxon, [], →OCLC, Canto XXVIII, page 45:
      The time draws near the birth of Christ: / ⁠The moon is hid; the night is still; / The Christmas bells from hill to hill / Answer each other in the mist.
    • 1859, [Florence] Marryatt, chapter XXIX, in Temper. A Novel., New York, N.Y.: Dick & Fitzgerald, [], →OCLC, page 205:
      Reader have your Christmasses hitherto been marked with happiness? Thank God for it. [] Then mamma died—and later in your college days, dear Herbert, when you were both as tall as men, but as fond of play as ever—and we used to spend such happy Christmasses, till our dear father died, / “That was our first sad winter, the one which followed his death, for you remember how sadly we all missed him, and we were still in mourning—but the next one was a happy day, for Lawry was so full of spirits—and that was our last happy Christmas. Herbert darling, Lawrence has left the last impression of happiness on my memory—he, who has since broken up our domestic peace, and for a long time spoilt our Christmasses—Heaven bless him! []
    • 1885, Christina G[eorgina] Rossetti, “December 29 [Love Came Down at Christmas]”, in Time Flies: A Reading Diary [], London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge [], →OCLC, page 251:
      Love came down at Christmas, / Love all lovely, Love Divine, / Love was born at Christmas, / Star and Angels gave the sign.
    • 1942 July 30, Irving Berlin (lyrics and music), “White Christmas”, performed by Bing Crosby, New York, N.Y.: Decca Records, →OCLC:
      I'm dreaming of a white Christmas / With every Christmas card I write / May your days be merry and bright / And may all your Christmases be white
    • 1943 (date written), “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, in Ralph Blane (lyrics), Hugo Martin (music), Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: From the M.G.M. Picture Meet Me in St. Louis, performed by Judy Garland, New York, N.Y.: Leo Feist, published 1944, →OCLC:
      Have yourself a merry little Christmas / Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
    • 1994, Cherry Drummond, The Remarkable Life of Victoria Drummond, Marine Engineer, London: The Institute of Marine Engineers, →ISBN, page 354:
      The last time I saw her was a week before Christmas, 1980. We took down a fat branch of berried Megginch holly, which we stuck in a pot for a Christmas tree, hung with silver balls and glitters. Aunt Victoria looked at it, smiled and unexpectedly said, “Christmas.” Surely she was sitting there dreaming of Christmasses long past: Christmas in the South China Sea, the Christmas lights of Hong Kong, hot Christmasses so long ago in the Anchises under the Southern Cross stars, or even longer ago of Christmasses at Megginch, singing carols round the lighted Christmas tree in the hall, while Queen Victoria’s goddaughter in her starched white dress and bronze shoes had worn the sparkling pendant given her by the great Queen.
    • 1994 October 29, Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff (lyrics and music), “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, in Merry Christmas, performed by Mariah Carey, New York, N.Y.: Columbia Records, →OCLC:
      I don't want a lot for Christmas / There is just one thing I need / I don't care about the presents / Underneath the Christmas tree / I just want you for my own / More than you could ever know / Make my wish come true / All I want for Christmas is you
  2. (often marketing) Short for Christmas season (the period of time before and after Christmas Day, during which people prepare for and celebrate Christmas); Christmastime.
    The last three Christmases have been good for retailers.
    Christmas shoppers spent less this December than last year, but our store will probably see just as many returned items during the twelve days of Christmas.
  3. A number of places in the United States:
    1. An uninhabited mining community in Gila County, Arizona.
    2. A census-designated place in Orange County, Florida.
    3. An unincorporated community in Au Train Township, Alger County, Michigan.
    4. An unincorporated community in Bolivar County, Mississippi
  4. A surname.
Alternative forms edit
Derived terms edit
Descendants edit
Translations edit
See also edit

(associated entries):

Noun edit

Christmas (uncountable)

  1. (informal or Britain, regional) Sprigs of holly and other evergreen plants used as Christmas decorations; also (generally), any Christmas decorations.
    • 1766, [John Cleland], “Essay on the Musical Waits at Christmas”, in The Way to Things by Words, and to Words by Things; [], London: [] L[ockyer John] Davis and C[harles] Reymers, [], →OCLC, page 96:
      [T]he antient Britons employed for the decoration of their houſes, or, more properly ſpeaking, of their bovvers, branches of ever-green, in invitation to the ſpirits: a cuſtom, vvhich, hovvever the motive may be aboliſhed, is retained to this inſtant. That kind of verdure vvhich is uſed to deck the vvindovvs, and old halls, vve novv, by metonymy, call Chriſtmas.
    • 1836 March – 1837 October, Charles Dickens, “A Good-humoured Christmas Chapter, []”, in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1837, →OCLC, page 290:
      "Vere does the mince-pies go, young opium eater?" said Mr. Weller to the fat boy, as he assisted in laying out such articles of consumption as had not been duly arranged on the previous night. The fat boy pointed to the destination of the pies. "Wery good," said Sam, "stick a bit o' Christmas in 'em. []"
    • 1893 September, Percy Manning, “[Folk-lore Miscellanea.] May-Day at Watford, Herts.”, in Folk-lore: A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution, & Custom, volume IV, number III, London: David Nutt, [] for The Folk-lore Society, →OCLC, page 403:
      Two of the girls carry between them on a stick what they call "the garland", [] The "garland" in shape reminds me of the "Christmas" which used to form the centre of the Christmas decorations in Yorkshire some few years ago, except that the latter had a bunch of mistletoe inside the hoops.
Translations edit

Adjective edit

Christmas (not comparable) (US)

  1. Red and green in colour.
  2. (chiefly New Mexico, cooking) Of a dish: having a sauce made with red (ripe) and green (unripe) chili peppers.
Translations edit

Verb edit

Christmas (third-person singular simple present Christmases or Christmasses, present participle Christmasing or Christmassing, simple past and past participle Christmased or Christmassed)

  1. (transitive)
    1. (informal) To decorate (a place) with Christmas (sprigs of holly and other evergreen plants used as Christmas decorations, or any Christmas decorations).
      • 1851, Henry Mayhew, “Of the Sellers of Trees, Shrubs, Flowers (Cut and in Pots), Roots, Seeds, and Branches”, in London Labour and the London Poor; [], volume I (The London Street-folk. Book the First.), London: [George Woodfall], →OCLC, page 141, column 1:
        "Then look," said a gardener to me, "what's spent on a Christmasing the churches! Why, now, properly to Christmas St. Paul's, I say properly, mind, would take 50l. worth at least; aye, more, when I think of it, nearer 100l. I hope there'll be no 'No Popery' nonsense against Christmasing this year. I'm always sorry when anything of that kind's afloat, because it's frequently a hindrance to business."
      • 1966, James Goldman, The Lion in Winter: A Comedy in Two Acts, New York, N.Y., Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif.: Samuel French, →OCLC, Act I, scene ii, page 17:
        (Moving to the holly boughs.) Come on; let's finish Christmassing the place.
      • 2012, Robin S. Shapiro, “It’s Never too Late to Play the Violin”, in Touchstones: Essays on Spirituality and Healing, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 27:
        Haddonfield was completely Christmased deep in December. It was lovely to see the beautifully decorated shops. Huge bows adorned the streetlamps, aerosol snow framed the windows, and people bundled up were moving in and out of the shops as the aroma of spice and clove from holiday candles scented the air.
    2. (obsolete, rare) To bring (someone) Christmas cheer.
  2. (intransitive)
    1. To celebrate Christmas.
      • 2016 November 3, Ricki Green, “David Jones Asks ‘How do Australians Christmas?’ in New Campaign via TBWA Sydney”, in Campaign Brief[1], archived from the original on 2023-12-24:
        The 2016 campaign via TBWA Sydney asks the question, ‘How do Australians Christmas?’ with a film to be launched today featuring global superstar and style icon, Cate Blanchett.
    2. To spend Christmas or the Christmas season in some place.
      • 1878, “Ironbark” [pseudonym; George Herbert Gibson], “Christmas in Australia”, in Southerly Busters, Sydney, N.S.W.: John Sands, [], →OCLC, page 73:
        I've Christmased since those palmy days / In many a varied spot, / And suffered many a weary phase / Of Christmas cold and hot.
      • 1878 December, Horace L. Nicholson, “Baulked by a Berry”, in W. J. Morgan, editor, The St. James’s Magazine and United Empire Review, volume XXXIV, London: Charing Cross Publishing Company, [], published 1879, →OCLC, page 1107:
        I have spent Christmas on the Severn, at Sharpness Point; in Paris, under siege, and among scenes of heartrending distress; among the Scotch hills, with Presbyterian severity, and I have Christmased in Normandy, where every tree seems green with mistletoe.
      • 1889 July 6, “Facts and Fancies”, in St. Stephen’s Review, number 330, London: The Publishing Company, →OCLC, page 9, column 1:
        Prince Albert Victor on arrival in India will land at Bombay, and travel through Southern India, proceeding from Madras by sea to Calcutta. He will Christmas at Calcutta, and then make a tour through Bengal, and pay a visit to the frontier.
      • 1894, M[ary] E[lizabeth] Braddon, “Prologue”, in The Christmas Hirelings [], London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. [], →OCLC, page 20:
        Mr. Danby never omitted his annual visits to Penlyon Place. He Christmassed there, and he Eastered there, and he knew the owner of the fine old Tudor house inside and out, his vices and his virtues, his weaknesses, and his prejudices.
      • 1938 January, Program: A Magazine for Program and Entertainment Committees, volume 4, number 4, New York, N.Y.: Program Company, →OCLC, page 7:
        André Maurois will be one of the spearheads of the Harold R[eginald] Peat list for the coming season, a result of Mr. Peat’s holiday visit to England, where he Christmassed with H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells.
      • 1993, Robert D[avid] Kaplan, “End of the Rainbow”, in The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite, New York, N.Y.: The Free Press, →ISBN, part I (Dream), page 80:
        Christmasing in Khartoum, writing in his Cairo study about the Al Azhar University, overseeing the publication of learned articles about Moslem medievalism, attending conferences and tea parties hosted by his former AUB students, feted constantly in many an Arab capital, and filling up his diary with descriptions of the bazaars of Lucknow and the exotic birds of Asia, [Bayard] Dodge was reaping the bounty of a life devoted to the Arabs and Moslem culture.
      • 2012 October 26, Lorrene Desbien, “December 22”, in Losing Sarah: A Mother’s Journey to Peace, Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 64:
        In particular, please keep my brother in your prayers as he Christmases in Afghanistan.
Alternative forms edit
  • Xmas (abbreviation, informal)
Translations edit

Etymology 2 edit

Short for Jiminy Christmas,[2] probably a variant of Jiminy Cricket or Jiminy Crickets, a euphemism for Jesus Christ.

Interjection edit


  1. (euphemistic) An expression of annoyance or surprise: Christ, Jesus Christ, Jiminy Cricket, Jiminy Crickets.
    Synonyms: Jesus Christmas, jiminy Christmas, Jimmy Christmas
Translations edit

References edit

  1. ^ Criste-mas(se, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Compare “Christmas, n.1 and int.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2023; “Christmas, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022..
  3. ^ Christmas, v.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023.

Further reading edit

Anagrams edit

Scots edit

Noun edit


  1. Christmas present