What is the X in X-mas?
"newspaper," c.1600, from French gazette (16c.), from Italian gazzetta, Venetian dialectal gazeta "newspaper," also the name of a small copper coin, literally "little magpie," from gazza; applied to the monthly newspaper (gazeta de la novità) published in Venice by the government, either from its price or its association with the bird (typical of false chatter), or both. First used in English 1665 for the paper issued at Oxford, whither the court had fled from the plague.
The coin may have been so called for its marking; Gamillscheg writes the word is from French gai (see jay). The general story of the origin of the word is broadly accepted, but there are many variations in the details:
We are indebted to the Italians for the idea of newspapers. The title of their gazettas was, perhaps, derived from gazzera, a magpie or chatterer; or, more probably, from a farthing coin, peculiar to the city of Venice, called gazetta, which was the connom price of the newspapers. Another etymologist is for deriving it from the Latin gaza, which would colloquially lengthen into gazetta, and signify a little treasury of news. The Spanish derive it from the Latin gaza, and likewise their gazatero, and our gazetteer, for a writer of the gazette and, what is peculiar to themselves, gazetista, for a lover of the gazette. [Isaac Disraeli, "Curiosities of Literature," 1835]
Gazzetta It., Sp. gazeta, Fr. E. gazette; prop. the name of a Venetian coin (from gaza), so in Old English. Others derive gazette from gazza a magpie, which, it is alleged, was the emblem figured on the paper; but it does not appear on any of the oldest Venetian specimens preserved at Florence. The first newspapers appeared at Venice about the middle of the 16th century during the war with Soliman II, in the form of a written sheet, for the privilege of reading which a gazzetta (= a crazia) was paid. Hence the name was transferred to the news-sheet. [T.C. Donkin, "Etymological Dictionary of the Romance Languages" (based on Diez), 1864]
GAZETTE. A paper of public intelligence and news of divers countries, first printed at Venice, about the year 1620, and so called (some say) because una gazetta, a small piece of Venetian coin, was given to buy or read it. Others derive the name from gazza, Italian for magpie, i.e. chatterer.--Trusler. A gazette was printed in France in 1631; and one in Germany in 1715. [Haydn's "Dictionary of Dates," 1857]
"to announce in the Gazette," 1670s; see gazette. The three official journals were published in Britain from c.1665, twice weekly, and contained lists of appointments, promotions, public notices, etc. Hence, "to be gazetted;" to be named to a command, etc.
originally, a newssheet containing an abstract of current events, the forerunner of the modern newspaper. The word is derived from the Italian gazzetta, a name given to informal news or gossip sheets first published in Venice in the mid-16th century. (Some historians speculate that the word was originally the name of a Venetian coin.) Similar sheets soon made their appearance in France and in England. The type of gazette originating from the private newsletter existed in England before the middle of the 16th century but was confined mainly to detailed accounts of diplomatic maneuvers. Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth I, however, a far greater variety of such sheets began to appear. Aimed at a wide popular audience, they disseminated gossip, trivia, unofficial news accounts from nongovernmental sources, news of recent explorations, commercial advertisements, and the more sensational news items of the day-reports of lurid crimes, supposed miracles, witchcraft, and the like. The news collected in these sheets was contributed by volunteers, was frequently based on the accounts of anonymous witnesses, and was notorious for its inaccuracy. In the 17th century the term was increasingly applied to official government publications, such as the Oxford Gazette (founded 1665), which is considered to be England's first true newspaper. The Oxford later became the London Gazette, which is still published as a court journal, containing records of honours, official appointments, names of bankrupts, and public notices.