Words are needed, and created, for many reasons.

Here’s one from Oswego, NY.  And you can say you heard about it first at adozenseconds.com.




For MORE you need the DOOR…



reindeer games — (n.) Trivial, often silly, activities that get in the way of more important things. For example, reading or doodling instead of bringing in wood for the fire¹, or children, creative as they can be, demanding  food, water, or more time with Legos before going to bed. Phrase often prefaced by the adjective “silly.” (KIDz²)


Origin: From the poem, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” written by Robert L. May for the department store retailer, Montgomery Ward in 1939. (Ward used Rudolph in the free coloring books they gave kids at Christmas.) There was, incidentally, some criticism of the mutant reindeer because of the association of a red nose with alcoholism and drunkenness.

The poem was adapted into a song, by the same name, and sung by the cowboy hero Gene Autry for Christmas 1949. I have vivid memories of hearing this on the radio in Newark Valley, NY, that year. The song, according to Wikipedia, became the number-2 best selling record of all time until the 1980s.

The phrase “reindeer games,” comes from that song. Ordinary reindeer refused to let the mutant-nosed Rudolph into their “games,” or playful routines which, of course, were secondary to the real business at hand. Hence “reindeer games” became associated with harmless diversions.

The term, in the way we’re talking about it, was first used in Oswego, New York, which 3 boys and a girl who once lived there in the 1970s and 1980s can verify.

A contemporary boy named Ezra added this phrase to his growing vocabulary a few years ago in Florida.

English is a flexible language. Maybe you can profit by adding “reindeer games” to your vocabulary.


¹ This example comes from real experience in the mountains of PA where I now write this.

² “KIDz” lets you search for the unique definitions for neologisms (new words) that we create for Knapp’s Internet Dictionary without distracting you from where “kid” is used in another way.