We all know what a ‘loo’ is, right? And I ain’t talking about the nickname for a Louie, Louisa, or Luella or whatever other name you might shorten to ‘Lou.’
Rather, I am talking about the ‘loo’ that we use all the time, that we can’t live without, that makes our lives easy and hygienic…
This loo right there. The toilet.
So why the hell is it called a ‘loo?’
Well get set, because this potty business is fascinating stuff.
(Pun totally intended).
Firstly, the word ‘loo’ is of British origin, yet countries around the world have their own wacky nicknames for the smallest room in the house.
WC (for ‘water closet’)
And with all of these insane names, all of which have weird stories behind them, one popular theory to the history of the word ‘loo’ comes from the cry of –
Which when pronounced sounds like ‘gardy-loo’
Which means “watch out for the water!”
This phrase came from medieval servants as they flung toilet waste from chamber pots out of second storey houses onto the street below, to warn passersby of the approaching excrement…
The second theory comes from the idea that all toilets were commonly located in ‘Room 100’ within buildings, and as the number ‘100’ and ‘loo’ look so similar, the word loo became synonymous with this room number and it’s subsequent function.
But for another likely term, we go back to the French. Again.
Because the word “lieux,”
pronounced as ‘loo,’
from the term “lieux d’aisance,”
meaning ‘places of comfort’ or ‘comfort stations,’ seems to be a rather fitting attribution, something that British soldiers may have picked up while in France for World War I.
James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses first makes mention of it in the following passage:
“O yes, mon loup. How much cost? Waterloo. Watercloset.”
A hilarious ‘loo’ anecdote points to a ‘Lady Louisa’ who was the unpopular wife of an Earl, who found herself the butt of a joke (so many puns!) when in 1867 while visiting friends, two smart arses as we would know them today to be, took the namecard off her bedroom door and stuck it to the bathroom.
This then resulted in the other visitors jokingly referring to using the bathroom as “going to Lady Lou-isa.”
🤣 Oh so cheap, but so good.
Perhaps it’s the simplest theory of all that makes sense, and might relate to the fact that iron cisterns back in the 20th century had the brand name of ‘Waterloo’ within their British outhouses…
But maybe we aren’t ever meant to know truly about the toilet???
Of course there are many other theories and people will argue the origin of it, of which none of us really knows.
But anyway, all things for you to think about and ponder next time you’re sitting on the dunny.
Is there a phrase or quote you want me to investigate?
Let me know, and I’ll give it a go!