The A to Z of Christmas words

A list of obscure and underused Christmas-related words to try out on your family and friends.
Red Christmas ball decorations with gold letters of the alphabet.
Christmas funVocabulary

Trying to draft a memorable festive message for this year’s Christmas cards to clients or friends? We’ve got you covered with our A–Z list of obscure and underused Christmas words we’d like to see make a comeback.

Aromatous: Having a pleasant aroma.

Example: The aromatous mix of gingerbread, peppermint and pine was so strong in the Christmas shop that I wondered if Santa’s elves were moonlighting as perfumers.

Bellycheer: The feeling of satisfaction that comes from holiday feasting.

Example: Having demolished Grandma’s Christmas spread in record time, the family reclined in a state of bellycheer, surreptitiously loosening their belts before the pavlova was served.

Crapulence: The feeling of being overly full or queasy after excessive eating or drinking.

Example: After indulging in one too many serves of plum pudding and brandy butter, Uncle Bob succumbed to crapulence and spent the remainder of Christmas Day on the sofa.

Doniferous: Bearing gifts.

Example: Lucy, doniferous, didn’t see her nephew Jack before she ran into him, scattering her presents onto the floor.

Effulgence: The state of being bright and radiant.

Example: The Christmas lights’ effulgence was so brilliant that even the neighbor’s bad tempered cat paused before launching herself at the angel on top of the tree.

Fuddled: Confused as a result of being drunk.

Example: At the office Christmas party, a fuddled Gary enthusiastically thanked the water cooler for the Secret Santa gift he’d received.

Grinch: A mean-spirited grouch who doesn’t enjoy Christmas.

Example: The office Grinch suggested that we should skip our annual Christmas party and instead attend a seminar on the tax implications of personal superannuation contributions.

Hogamadog: The gradually enlarging ball of snow used to build a snowman.

Example: Watching The Wizard of Oz every Christmas night as a child sparked my love of red shoes, which grew like a hogamadog as I got older.

Ivy-mantled: Covered or adorned with ivy, a traditional Christmas decoration associated with immortality and fidelity.

Example: The home’s brick facade was ivy-mantled, as if mother nature had decided to dress it in a green cloak for the festive season.

Julebukking: a Scandinavian tradition involving dressing in disguise and going from house to house with a group of friends to collect treats (sometimes alcohol).

Example: For their annual julebukking escapade, Brett and his mates from soccer decided to dress up as the band Kiss.

Kedge-gutted: Feeling sick from over-indulgencing in food.

Example: Following Christmas lunch at his parents’ house with dinner at his in-laws always made Steve feel kedge-gutted, but neither set of parents wanted to miss out on seeing their grandkids on Christmas Day.

Lollygagging: To fool around and waste time.

Example: Santa was fed up with the elves’ lollygagging in the toy workshop so he threatened to cancel their annual post-Christmas trip to Phuket.

Mulligrubs: Feelings of melancholy, sullenness or depression, often associated with the holiday season.

Example: When no one wanted to leave the Christmas party to go to a karaoke bar, Yasmin got the mulligrubs for the rest of the night.

Noggin: A small mug or cup, often used to serve eggnog at Christmas; a small quantity of alcohol; a person’s head.

Example: As Helen handed out noggins to the club’s directors, she wondered if doubling the brandy in the eggnog had been a mistake.

Overquat: To eat too much.

Example: Mitch passed on the green salad to ensure he didn’t overquat at lunch.

Present-silver: Money given in place of a gift.

Example: After receiving self-help books from his mum for the past few years, Pablo was really hoping for present-silver this year.

Quaaltagh: The first person to enter your home on New Year’s Day, bringing luck for the year ahead.

Example: My dad likes to be the qualtaagh every year, but I’ve warned him we won’t open the front door before 8am this year.

Ramracket:  To run and jump around playfully during Christmas.

Example: Elena’s hopes of getting eight hours’ sleep were dashed when the kids started to ramracket around the house at 5 am, shouting that Santa had been.

Scurryfunge: To hastily tidy the house when you discover unexpected guests are on their way.

Example: I had to scurryfunge when my mother-in-law suddenly announced she was stopping by for a cup of tea after her Christmas shopping.

Toe-cover: Slang for a cheap or useless present.

Example: Gus’s habit of giving everyone toe-covers for Christmas had become a family joke.

Ugly sweater: Colorful and gaudy sweaters often worn during Christmas parties.

Example: It was going to be too hot on Christmas Day to wear our ugly sweaters, so we opted for matching gingerbread men Hawaiian shirts instead.

Vigil: A period of staying awake during the night, often associated with Christmas Eve services.

Example: While some of the adults went to midnight mass, the kids kept their own vigil for Santa.

Wassail: To drink a toast to someone; an alcoholic drink consumed at Christmas time; spreading good cheer by visiting neighbours and singing carols.

Example: The neighbours decided to spice up their wassailing by recreating Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ outfit.

Xenium: A gift, usually food, given to a guest or stranger.

Example: Vasiliki wanted to give her guests a xenium but couldn’t decide between baklava or her Yaya’s famous almond shortbread.

Yule-hole: The last hole in your belt you have to use after indulging at Christmas dinner.

Example: Even when using his yule-hole, Keith’s waistband felt uncomfortably tight.

Zealously: To do something with great energy or enthusiasm.

Example: Determined to win the neighborhood Christmas light competition, Matteo zealously adorned his house with so many twinkling bulbs that he shorted the circuit.


Read more

Holiday reading guide 2023

More Insights

Inclusive languageSocial mediaWriting
BooksEditingReadingSydney Writers' Festival
Content strategyMarketingSocial mediaWriting
Scroll to Top
Editor Group

The right words to help you grow sales, deliver messages and meet your compliance needs.