Merriam-Webster Is As Confused By Santa’s Reindeer Names As We Are


The folks behind the Merriam-Webster dictionary apparently want to have some words with Santa Claus ― mostly about the names he gave some of his reindeer.

The dictionary asked some hard yet hilarious questions Tuesday about Santa’s choices for reindeer monikers.

Posting on X (or, as virtually everyone still calls it, Twitter), Merriam-Webster conceded that some of the animals’ names make sense.

There’s “Dasher,” which means “one that dashes”; “Dancer,” which is “one that dances”; and “Prancer,” which means “one that walks or moves in a spirited manner.” Fine. Reindeer might reasonably do all three of these things.

But some confusion crept in with “Vixen,” a word that Merriam-Webster noted can mean “a female fox,” “a shrewish, ill-tempered woman” or “a sexually attractive woman.”

“Ummm, what’s going on here, Santa?” Merriam-Webster’s social media person asked, speaking for all of us.

Merriam-Webster found it slightly easier to understand why Santa might name a magical reindeer Comet: “Both fly... so sure, why not?”

But Cupid’s name caused more head-scratching for Merriam-Webster, since it’s also the name of the Roman god of erotic love.

“We’re kind of drifting back into ‘Vixen-territory,’” the tweet noted.

The dictionary had no notes for the final two reindeer, Donner and Blitzen, since their names are based on the Dutch words for “thunder” and “lightning,” which is pretty metal.

“We’ve always thought these two were the bad boys of the sleigh,” Merriam-Webster tweeted.

The names of the eight main reindeer first appeared in the 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” aka “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” ― so maybe Merriam-Webster is better off directing its questions to the estate of author Clement Clarke Moore.

  • 2023-12-24
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