I was just won­der­ing whether I can write:

Christ­mas-col­ored stock­ings

I know that Christ­mas can be a mod­i­fier as in Christ­mas gift, but can it be used as an ad­jec­tive in Christ­mas-col­ored?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Dec 16, 2018 at 3:10

4 Answers 4


Christmas colors are red and green, I believe, throughout the West, with white, silver, or gold often accompanying them, and in modern times other colors as well. Christmas-colored would be understood as such, hence you can find Christmas-colored flames, and so on. But I wouldn't recommend it in general.

Most things described as X-colored are tinted in a single color—

— or in a handful of very similar colors, e.g. desert-coloured animals. If multiple colors of a single X are intended, they tend to be specified— red, white, and blue-colored cocktails.

You can certainly invoke other imagery in narrative, referencing the appearance of a set of colors: kaleidoscope-coloured ornaments, confetti-colored lumber. In literary writing, I would take no issue with the appearance of Christmas-colored stockings. But in more general communication, I would prefer stockings in Christmas colors, and would name the specific colors in business and other communication where precision is preferable, especially in cross-cultural settings.

  • Can't we refer to a design palette of colors in a one word singular name, and refer to objects that use those colors as "palettename colored"? I am reminded of this: forbes.com/pictures/lmj45ljli/…
    – user662852
    Dec 15, 2015 at 2:15
  • Since those are direct quotes, do the rules on referencing require source attribution of the author's name in plain text? Or are they so short that it doesn't matter in this case?
    – ErikE
    Dec 15, 2015 at 4:55
  • The color gold is often associated with Christmas too.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 15, 2015 at 14:08

Yes (but you do have to know what you are meaning!)

Some examples ...

'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale; 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale; A Christmas gambol oft could cheer The poor man's heart through half the year. ~Walter Scott

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month. ~Harlan Miller

Christmas cheer.

Christmas Shopping.

Christmas TV special.

Whose heart doth hold the Christmas glow Hath little need of Mistletoe; Who bears a smiling grace of mien Need waste no time on wreaths of green; Whose lips have words of comfort spread Needs not the holly-berries red— His very presence scatters wide The spirit of the Christmastide. ~John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922)

Christmas lists for gifts and cards.

The Christmas season has come to mean the period when the public plays Santa Claus to the merchants. ~John Andrew Holmes

The Christmas bells from hill to hill Answer each other in the mist. ~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wouldn't life be worth the living Wouldn't dreams be coming true If we kept the Christmas spirit All the whole year through? ~Author Unknown

Christmas gift suggestions...

  • All your cur­rent ex­am­ples use Christ­mas as a noun, ɴᴏᴛ as an ad­jec­tive! Zero-deriva­tion might buy you “It does­n’t look very Christ­mas to me” for an ad­jec­ti­val use—but not, I sus­pect, a very well-re­ceived one: it has a mal­odor­ous “be­cause rea­sons” smell about it in my es­ti­ma­tion. The ad­jec­tive Christ­massy has been used since 1882, but the OED still la­bels it col­lo­quial. An older stab at de­riv­ing an ad­jec­tive yielded Christ­masly, as in “as may ap­pear by the Christ­masly han­dling thereof” from 1608, but that one the OED la­bels ob­so­lete.
    – tchrist
    Dec 16, 2018 at 3:25

If you mean whether the noun Christmas can be the first element of a compound noun see Oald Christmas; especially the box "All matches". http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/christmas?q=Christmas


No. Christmas is a noun. Your example "Christmas colored stockings" has a compound adjective "Christmas colored", made up of the noun "Christmas" and the adjective "colored" (or perhaps it's a participle). Like any ordinary adjective, this compound adjective is equivalent to a relative clause: "which are Christmas colored". "To be Christmas colored", in turn, means to have the colors of Christmas.

I see no reason anywhere in this derivation to make "Christmas" anything other than a noun.

  • It bugs me that this, the right an­swer, has been grossly un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated by our com­mu­nity. You're spot on iden­ti­fy­ing this as hav­ing started out life as a re­duced clause. In­deed a great many com­pound ad­jec­tives end­ing in a “par­tici­ple-look­ing” word (Penn Tree­bank's VBN or VBG) were orig­i­nally rel­a­tive clauses of some sort, their con­nect­ing words whit­tled away and a shiny hy­phen added, so that they could then be con­ve­niently used as ad­jec­tives. Christ­mas-hat­ing grinches, cherry-col­ored cheeks, hand-col­ored orbs, hand-writ­ten let­ters.
    – tchrist
    Dec 16, 2018 at 3:08

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