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Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 07:30:00 UT
From: The Learning Kingdom <[log in to unmask]>
To: Cool Word List <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Cool Word: Xmas

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  The Learning Kingdom's Cool Word of the Day for December 24, 1998
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                     Xmas [n. KRIS-mus / EKS-mus]

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This abbreviation for the word Christmas is often viewed as a modern
commercial shorthand, but has actually been in use for hundreds of
years in religious writing.

Xmas makes use of an old abbreviation for Christ.  His name in Greek
begins with the letter chi, which looks like an X, and his name has
long been abbreviated as X.  Using the same shorthand, the word Xmas
was recorded in print as early as 1555.

What is the correct way to say the word?  The similar abbreviation
Xtian (for Christian) is pronounced [KRIS-chun], so Xmas should
correctly be pronounced [KRIS-mus].  But today, X is more readily seen
as a detached letter, or as a mathematical term, so most people
pronounce Xmas [EKS-mus].


Cool Word of the Day will return on January 4th, 1999.
A Happy Holiday Season to all from The Learning Kingdom!


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