loo (was: Come off the money (= get off the dime?))

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 15 16:24:04 UTC 2002

At 11:25 AM -0400 4/15/02, Mark A Mandel wrote:
>#According to an Englishwoman I met in 1982, British pay toilets (or whatever
>#they call them) cost a shilling, and "I have to spend a shilling" meant "I
>#have to go to the lieu".
>I've often heard "spend a penny" (UK contexts), maybe older in origin
>but fossilized (a coprolith? a cuprolith? ;-)\ ). But I've never seen
>"lieu", only "loo"!
True, but I nominate it as an excellent reanalysis:  lieu < Waterlieu
'place of water', as in where Napoleon got (metaphorically) drenched.

I wonder what the real etymology of "loo" is, though.  The OED has
"Etym. obscure", but I'm pleased to see that the association I had
(to both "WC" as in "water closet" and "Waterloo") has a
distinguished precursor (although I didn't make the connection to
French wolves):

1922 JOYCE Ulysses 556 O yes, mon loup. How much cost? Waterloo. Watercloset.


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