title given to Jesus of Nazareth, Old English crist (by 830, perhaps 675), from Latin Christus, from Greek khristos "the anointed" (translation of Hebrew mashiah; see messiah), noun use of verbal adjective of khriein "to rub, anoint" (see chrism). The Latin term drove out Old English Hæland "healer, savior," as the preferred descriptive term for Jesus.
A title, treated as a proper name in Old English, but not regularly capitalized until 17c. Pronunciation with long -i- is result of Irish missionary work in England, 7c.-8c. The ch- form, regular since c.1500 in English, was rare before. Capitalization of the word begins 14c. but is not fixed until 17c. The 17c. mystical sect of the Familists edged it toward a verb with Christed "made one with Christ."