Alison Jackson-Bass wrote
> Lieux [d'aisance], water closet, privy, latrine...<
>The use of 'loo' as 'place' seems a lot more reasonable to me than
'l'eau', especially if it is/was used in France to include a privy.
However, no-one on the list has risen to my question of when the term
first came into use in the UK. As I mentioned, my family first acquired
'loo' as 'toilet' around 1970 from a friend's daughter who picked up the
term from her all-female boarding school in Great Malvern (maybe the
context is important ;)<
Similarly I met 'loo' in Cambridge in 1961, when for the first time I mixed
with posh middle-class people who said 'loo' when I said 'lav'. I thought
it was very twee, if not sissy. All right in an >all-female boarding school
in Great Malvern< but this was an all-male Cambridge college!
I'm sure a good recent dictionary will give the history of the term and its
first appearance. I don't think Nancy Mitford mentioned it in her
definition of U/non-U terms in 1956, though she discussed 'toilet/lavatory'.
Given the contexts in which Alison and I recall it, an origin in 'lieu
d'aisance' among kids airing their knowledge of French and their family
holidays in France which the rest of us couldn't afford seems very likely!
'gardy loo' in Edinburgh sounds like a myth.
PS - perhaps we should start putting 'N-AS' (non-archaeological subject) in
the subject line of these interesting debates britarch gets into.