The Silent T in Christmas
Christmas [kris-muh s]
-mas [muh s]
I saw someone mention this in an answer on StackExchange on the etymology on the Silent T in Christen.
As for the silent “t” in Christmas, McCawley explained that the “t” was once pronounced in words such as “Christmas,” “glisten,” “listen,” “mistletoe” and “soften.” (The pronunciation of the “t” in “often” by some speakers today is a remnant of this practice.)
But during the 1600s, the “t” sound was dropped whenever it was preceded by a spirant (a fricative consonant such as “s” or “f”) and followed by a sonorant (a voiced consonant such as “l,” “r,” “m” or “n”).1
So maybe we should start emphasizing Christ in Christmas. So saying it like this Merry Christ Mas [krahyst-muh s]. I know that Jerry that also works with the youth at my church says it as Christ Mas. I plan to try to start saying Christ Mas [krahyst-muh s]. After all Christmas is all about Jesus Christ!
It is funny how we don’t pronounce Christ, in Christmas. Maybe we should start doing that, after all the first seven letters are important … CHRIST. That is what CHRISTmas is about after all. The celebration of the birth of Christ.
First published December 21, 2016. Last republished or updated December 5, 2018.