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24 Dec. 2007 – OED Word of the Day: Santa Claus

The Oxford English Dictionary … trustworthy like good old Santa himself ;-)
I’m sorry for not being able to preserve the italics, bold type and underlining. All this got lost somewhere on the way between “copy” and “paste”.

Santa Claus
Orig. U.S.
Also 9 Santiclaus; dial. and colloq. Santy. [a. Du. dial. Sante Klaas (Du. Sint Klaas), Saint Nicholas: see NICHOLAS.]
a. In nursery language, the name of an imaginary personage, who is supposed, in the night before Christmas day, to bring presents for children, a stocking being hung up to receive his gifts. Also, a person wearing a red cloak or suit and a white beard, to simulate the supposed Santa Claus to children, esp. in shops or on shopping streets. Also transf., fig., attrib., and ellipt. as Santa.
Now virtually synonymous with Father Christmas.
1773 N.Y. Gaz. 26 Dec. 3/1 Last Monday the Anniversary of St. Nicholas, otherwise called St. A Claus, was celebrated at Protestant-Hall. 1808 Salmagundi 25 Jan. 407 The noted St. Nicholas, vulgarly called Santaclaus of all the saints in the kalendar the most venerated by true hollanders, and their unsophisticated descendants. 1821 Weekly Visitor IV. 262/1 For time immemorial the Dutch had a tradition, that there existed a being of no earthly birth, who was called Santa Claus. 1828 LONGFELLOW in Life (1891) I. 152 Gew-gaws for the Bifana, who acts here the same comedy for children that Santiclaus does in America. 1850 SUSAN WARNER Wide Wide World xxviii, I used to think that Santa Claus came down the chimney. 1863 C. M. YONGE Chr. Names I. 213 The Dutch element in New England has introduced Santa Klaus to many a young American who knows nothing of St. Nicholas or of any saint’s day. 1872 B. HARTE (title) How Santa Claus came to Simpson’s Bar. 1886 P. STAPLETON Major’s Christmas 201 Papas and mammas..planned the Santa Claus performance which was to come when the inquisitive eyes were closed in slumber. 1909 Chicago Daily News 10 Aug. 8/3 Uncle Sam is by no means an impartial Santa Claus. 1913 Sat. Even. Post 6 Dec. 50/1 If you want to act the part of Santa this Christmas. 1925 T. DREISER Amer. Trag. (1926) I. II. xxix. 356, I know something Santy has brought my Dad that he’ll like. 1932 J. BEAMES Gateway vi. 108 You’re just as kiddish as what you was when you’d be up at three in the mornin’ to see what Santy had brung you. 1934 Amer. Mercury May 5/2 The Santa Claus theory of relief may be appropriate to a genuine emergency like an earthquake or a big fire. 1943 K. TENNANT Ride on Stranger iii. 24 Come on down, Ma. Come and see what Santa’s brought you. 1956 H. GOLD Man who was not with It (1965) xxxii. 310 It was practically Christmas, too, with all the Santy Clauses peddling in the streets. 1957 [see GOOD-TIME a.]. 1973 ‘D. HALLIDAY’ Dolly & Starry Bird i. 2 The Zodiac Trust is the Santa Claus of worldwide astronomy. A private foundation richly funded.., it makes grants to struggling centres. 1975 Times 10 Dec. 4/4 Being a man was a genuine occupational qualification for a Santa Claus. 1976 M. MACHLIN Pipeline ix. 103 A huge, heavy-set man,..with a bushy unkempt Santa Claus beard, walked unsteadily toward their table. 1976 Scotsman 24 Dec. (Weekend Suppl.) 1/1 Stop rakin’, Rikki. Santy says ye’ve had enough. 1976 Scottish Daily Express 27 Dec. 2/8 She was one of nine women charged with prostitution in Dallas, Texas, for propositioning Vice Squad officers disguised as Santas. 1977 Times 24 Dec. 16/5 Santa must have been updated over the years. Presumably girls hang out their tights now, instead of a solitary stocking.
b. (collect. sing.) Christmas presents; Christmas delicacies. U.S. dial.
1929 W. FAULKNER Sound & Fury 107 Buy yourself some Santy Claus. 1939 These are our Lives (Federal Writers’ Project, U.S.) 22 One Christmas we ask him for fifty dollars for some clothes and a little Santy Claus for the chil’en.

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