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Christos (Χριστός) is the Greek Word for Christ, which means literally "The Anointed One". The word was originally used to translate the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ), that is Messiah.

The Greek term is cognate with Chrism, meaning perfumed oil; in fact Christ in classical Greek usage could mean covered in oil, and is thus a literal and accurate translation of Messiah. The Greek term is thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root of ghrei-, which in Germanic languages, such as English, mutated into gris- and grim-. Hence the English words grisly, grim, grime, and grease, are thought to be cognate with Christ, though these terms came to have a negative connotation, where the Greek word had a positive connotation. In French, the Greek term, in ordinary usage, mutated first to cresme and then to creme, which was loaned into English as cream. The word was used by extension in Hellenic and Jewish contexts to refer to the office, role or status of the person, not to their actually having oil on their body, as a strict reading of the etymology might imply.

The spelling "Christ" in English dates from the 17th century, when, in the spirit of the enlightenment, spellings of certain words were changed to fit their Greek or Latin origins. Prior to this, in Old and Middle English, the word was spelled Crist.



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