History Of The Word Toilet - John Stall Wisdom - Toilet Graffiti

History Of The Word Toilet - John Stall Wisdom - Toilet Graffiti. Discover the interesting history of the word toilet at John Stall Wisdom...
By: Martin Lewis
 
Dec. 2, 2010 - PRLog -- History Of The Word Toilet - John Stall Wisdom - Toilet Graffiti. The word "toilet" came to be used in English along with other French fashions. It originally referred to the toile, French for "cloth", draped over a lady or gentleman's shoulders while their hair was being dressed, and then (in both French and English) by extension to the various elements, and also the whole complex of operations of hairdressing and body care that centered at a dressing table, also covered by a cloth, on which stood a mirror and various brushes and containers for powder and make-up: this ensemble was also a toilette, as also was the period spent at the table, during which close friends or tradesmen were often received. The English poet Alexander Pope in The Rape of the Lock (1717) described the intricacies of a lady's preparation:

“And now, unveil'd, the toilet stands display'd
Each silver vase in mystic order laid.”


These various senses are first recorded by the OED in rapid sequence in the later 17th century: the set of "articles required or used in dressing" 1662, the "action or process of dressing" 1681, the cloth on the table 1682, the cloth round the shoulders 1684, the table itself 1695, and the "reception of visitors by a lady during the concluding stages of her toilet" 1703 (also known as a "toilet-call"), but in the sense of a special room the earliest use is 1819, and this does not seem to include a lavatory.

Through the 18th century, everywhere in the English-speaking world, these various uses centred around a lady's draped dressing-table remained dominant. In the 19th century, apparently first in the United States, the word was adapted as a genteel euphemism for the room and the object as we know them now, perhaps following the French usage cabinet de toilette, much as powder-room may be coyly used today, and this has been linked to the introduction of public toilets, for example on railway trains, which required a plaque on the door. The original usages have become obsolete, and the table has become a dressing-table.

Read more at http://www.johnstallwisdom.com/profiles/blogs/history-of-...

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About John Stall Wisdom (johnstallwisdom.com): A collection of personal reflections, confessions, poetry, prose, questions, and answers and an occasional bit of wisdom that might give us some insight into our culture.
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