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101 "loo" (Word origins - alt.usage.english)




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This article is from the alt.usage.english FAQ, by Mark Israel misrael@scripps.edu with numerous contributions by others.

101 "loo" (Word origins - alt.usage.english)


This British colloquial word for "toilet" was established usage
by the 1920s. Suggested origins include:
French "lieu d'aisance" = "place of easement"
French "On est prie de laisser ce lieu aussi propre qu'on le trouve"
= "Please leave this place as clean as you find it"
French "Gardez l'eau!" = "Mind the water!" (supposedly said in the
days before modern plumbing, when emptying chamber pots
from upper-storey windows. According to Chris Malcolm
(cam@aifh.ed.ac.uk), this phrase is still sometimes used by
common folk in Edinburgh when heaving water or slops, and
tour guides say that it originated there circa 1600.)
"louvre" (from the use of slatted screens for a makeshift lavatory)
"bordalou" (an 18th-century ladies' travelling convenience)
"looward" or "leeward" (the sheltered side of a boat)
"lee", a shepherd's shelter made of hurdles
"lieu", as in "time off in lieu", i.e., in place of work done
"lavatory", spoken mincingly
"Lady Louisa Anson" (a 19th-century English noblewoman whose sons
took her name-card from her bedroom door and put it on
the guest lavatory)
a misreading of room number "100" (supposedly a common European
toilet location)
a "water closet"/"Waterloo" joke. (James Joyce's "Ulysses" (1922)
contains the following text: "O yes, "mon loup". How much
cost? Waterloo. water closet.")

 

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