Today’s the big day. Merry Christmas!

If you prefer it in French, it’s Joyeux Noël. Our German friends say Frohe Weinachten.

Lots and lots of people around these parts say Feliz Navidad. In fact, we used to sing that every Sunday during Advent in the church from which I came.

In Italian it’s Buon Natale and in Portugese, much like Spanish it’s Feliz Natal.

Here are three you probably can’t pronounce: Vrolijk kerstfeest in Dutch, Crăciun fericit in Romanian, and

Wesołych świąt Bożego Narodzenia in Poland.

Well, that’s enough of the greetings of the season in all those pretty languages. I’ve been reading some more interesting words in English and will share a few for the few of you who enjoy this sort of thing.

All the rest of today’s words are made from shortening longer words. They should fit right in with the general trauma initiated by everyone who’s in such a hurry all the time. A trauma of the season.

The first is simple. “Hankie.” Shortened from handkerchief. Confess. You have used hankie much more often than the combination of hand and kerchief.

Here’s one I use almost every day, learned from my children. It’s “nuke,” which we do to our food regularly in the microwave oven.

It meant to “attack or destroy with nuclear bombs” but became popular, not for Hiroshima, but for that convenient little oven.

Here’s another we all use pretty regularly, though maybe not so much as we used to. It’s “natch.” You say it when somebody says something you expected them to say and you agree. Natch. Short for naturally.

Here’ a shortened word I’ll bet you didn’t know came from something else, even if you play the game.

It’s “soccer.” What all the children around here play is what the British, and most of the rest of the world, call football. Not to be confused with what we call football, or the game known as rugby, the British created “association football.”

Then they clipped up the word, grabbing the soccer from the word association and adding an “er.”

If that’s not perfectly clear, it’s not my fault. I’m reading Merriam-Webster, as usual.

Now we get to “perk.” You can make coffee or give somebody a privilege along with his salary by using perk.

The first use is short for percolate, which many of us may remember as a coffee making method. The other perk is short of perquisite, a definite plus. You can also feel perked up, filled with cheerfulness.

Here’s a another gift from the British. The ever popular “pram.” All the little English babies are wheeled around in prams. It’s short for perambulator. A person who walks can also be called a perambulator.

With that, I’ll perambulate on out of here.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at

(3) comments

Miceal O'Laochdha

Nollaig Shona Duit Kathy. This is Merry Christmas to you, in Irish.

Carlos Ponce

And there's the Bing Crosby song - Mele Kalikimaka -the Hawaiian way to say Merry Christmas.

Jose' Boix

Bon Nadal i feliç any Nou! Using Catalán...

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