In the news - Tossers and prats need public help

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Jan 4 02:19:19 UTC 2007

On 1/3/07, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> At 8:37 PM -0500 1/3/07, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >I've heard that it's from "gardy-loo," a garbling of (Norman-? /
> >Anglo-?)French, _gardez-l'eau!_, "watch [out for] the water!" shouted
> >by people on upper stories to warn passers-by as they emptied their
> >slop jars, also known as "chamber pots," into the street below.
> These are nice stories (I'm familiar with both, especially Alison's),
> but I figure there's a reason the OED, HDAS, AHD, et al. list it as
> "origin unknown" .

And don't forget the Lady Louisa theory, or the Room 100 theory. Cecil
Adams has a roundup:

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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