I recently read Word Origins by Anatoly Liberman which is a work replete with a high level of etymological research. I was surprised to read in the book Liberman's etymology for "loo." He states, Loo (lavatory) a place for "ab-loo-tion," like lava-tory?) is another 'university word.'
I was under the impression that the origin of "loo" was uncertain. Any comments?
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I recently read Word Origins by Anatoly Liberman which is a work replete with a high level of etymological research. ... "ab-loo-tion," like lava-tory?) is another 'university word.' I was under the impression that the origin of "loo" was uncertain.Any comments?

It's hard to see how it could ever be known for certain. But I always suggest it may be French lieu , as there's a university tradition of Greek topos being used in the same way. Partridge reckoned it was from French l'eau , though.

Mike.
Putting in the search box at the AUE Website gives the FAQ entry and its list of twelve theories ("ablutions" not included), as well as links to other articles such as Michael Quinion:
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-loo1.htm
Quinion says it has to something quite modern, as it was never recorded until James Joyce, 1922. Quinion favors
the French lieux d'aisances, literally "places of
ease" (the French term is usually plural), once also an English euphemism, which could have been picked up by British servicemen in World War One.
Thinking again about "ablutions" since that so very definitely refers to washing oneself, and we know the British are so literal about separating the place where one bathes from the place where one excretes, why would the room with the "water closet" have been called "the ablutions"? It doesn't fit.
If this guy is so erudite, does he give footnotes, citations, references, dates, anything to go on besides the claim?

Best Donna Richoux
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It's hard to see how it could ever be known ... way. Partridge reckoned itwas from French l'eau , though.

Putting in the search box at the AUE Website gives the FAQentry and its list of twelve theories ("ablutions" ... If this guy is so erudite, does he give footnotes, citations, references, dates, anything to go on besides the claim?

Q is erudite, but I haven't read his entry on this, so I don't know what quotations he has. Unfortunately, Partridge doesn't back his suggestion with a quotation, either; but he does say it started in the late 19C.
The washing connection is universal, and it's quite wrong to think the British don't make it: cf "lavatory"; then, AmE "bathroom", Arabic and Turkish "hammam". Even "toilet", actually. I wouldn't be remotely surprised to find examples of "ablution" used euphemistically: in fact, I almost certainly have, and have simply forgotten.

Mike.
surprised Loo uncertain. always of was

If Q means Quinion, then sorry, I wasn't clear. I was harking back to retrosorter's mention of "ab-loo-tion" in "Word Origins" by Anatoly Liberman.
Unfortunately, Partridge doesn't back his suggestion with a quotation, either; but he does say it started in the late 19C. ... be remotely surprised to find examples of "ablution" used euphemistically: in fact, I almost certainly have, and have simply forgotten.

I suppose that's true.

Best Donna Richoux
surprised Loo uncertain. always of was

I think Donna was referring to the erudite Liberman. Quinion does give a general bibliography in his corresponding book POSH, but no specific references, except that the Joyce quotation is spelt out:

"O yes, mon loup. How much cost? Waterloo. Water closet."
Paul
In bocca al Lupo!
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Thinking again about "ablutions" since that so very definitely refers to washing oneself, and we know the British are ... place where one excretes, why would the room with the "water closet" have been called "the ablutions"? It doesn't fit.

British military usage was from the First World War period influenced by hutted camps (built quickly of wood to house an unprecedentedly large army.) In these camps (still used in many places, e.g. the SAS regimental HQ at Hereford) separate buildings contain WCs, washbasins and baths (shower or "slipper") i.e. there are no such facilities in the barrack huts. These buildings were always called ablution huts or "the ablutions" and I dare say they still are. Because of the plumbing they often had brick or concrete foundations which the barrack huts did not need.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
I recently read Word Origins by Anatoly Liberman which is a work replete with a high level of etymological research. ... like lava-tory?) is another 'university word.' I was under the impression that the origin of "loo" was uncertain. Any comments?

The more vernacular Edinburgh housewives still shout "Gardy Loo" when hurling a bucket of water down the common stairs, or out of the kitchen window, i.e. "Gardez l'eau!". The stinking ship which sails from Leith (Edinburgh's port) carrying the unprocessed sewage of Edinburgensians to be dumped out at sea, because we still haven't got sufficient local sewage processing capacity, is still named "Gardy Loo".
The term comes from the very high blocks of flats in Edinburgh's Old Town, some of which were 10 or more stories high, and no toilets or lifts (elevators). So the folk in the upper stories emptied their chamber pots out of the window in the morning into the street, to the shout of "Gardy Loo!". Some of those old buildings and streets are still standing, although modern regulations has now equipped them with toilets. In some cases quite recently: as an Edinburgh university student over 40 years ago I bought myself a flat without a toilet for
150 pounds. I later let it to Robin Williamson of the IncredibleString Band.
Scots has a lot more words derived from French than English, and many of them are very common everyday words, a left-over from the days of the "Auld Alliance" when the French were our allies against the English. These old traditions were well known to Dr Johnson, but seem to have escaped the attention of more modern lexicographers.

I think part of the problem is that although it's not difficult to support this derivation of "loo" in Edinburgh, they haven't been able to find any written records substantiating the passage of the term from Scots to English.

Chris Malcolm (Email Removed) +44 (0)131 651 3445 DoD #205 IPAB, Informatics, JCMB, King's Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK (http://www.dai.ed.ac.uk/homes/cam/)
("Followup-To:" header set to alt.usage.english.)
The more vernacular Edinburgh housewives still shout "Gardy Loo" when hurling a bucket of water down the common stairs, or out of the kitchen window, i.e. "Gardez l'eau!".() Scots has a lot more words derived from French than English,

Even in vernacular Edinburghensian? Are there other examples of such French-derived phrases in use in Edinburgh by ordinary folk?
I think part of the problem is that although it's not difficult to support this derivation of "loo" in Edinburgh, they haven't been able to find any written records substantiating the passage of the term from Scots to English.

Another problem I see is that there's no obvious* connection between the "Gardy loo!" warning and calling the installed indoor toilet device "a loo". I mean, you'd think that they'd pick a *different* name for it since it solved the *problem of people dumping the contents of chamber pots. It eliminated the need to say "Gardy loo!".
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