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'Tis the season...

Posted by R. Berg on November 21, 2002

In Reply to: 'Tis the season... posted by Bruce Kahl on November 21, 2002

: : Does anyone have any thoughts on the *complete phrase* "`Tis the season"? Thanks!

: 'Tis the season = This is the season
: as in
: 'Tis the season to be jolly, trolla la la lah la la lah la!

No, Bruce. "'Tis" isn't a contraction of "THIS is." It's a contraction of "IT is."

Oxford English Dictionary on "'tis":
"Abbreviation of 'it is', formerly common in prose, now poetic or archaic . . ."
The OED's first quotation for it is dated c. 1450.

Similarly, "'twas" is a contraction of "it was" ('Twas the night before Christmas . . . ). "'Twill" and "'tain't" also exist, but the OED doesn't have entries for them.