Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Meaning of the Word Eavesdropping with Letter from Sir John

Did you ever want to know the meaning of the word eavesdropping?I know,I know you've been picking your brain and staying up all night scratching your head.Well, just in case your wondering. My darling Sir John, did his research and I'd like to share the findings.

Here's a letter from my dear friend, Sir John.It is also an example of the English penchant and love for writing letters,a dying tradition.Thus,Sir John is an example of the quintessential English gentleman that you read about it in Jane Austen novels,however, he's very hip,and likes to rock out to Jethro Tull,(lead singer Ian Anderson)and enjoys reading Dan Brown's The Davinci Code and Lost Symbol.

Cheers and Happy Reading!


Hello darling Lady Sabrina

Your trusty research assistant here, braved the cold of the lunchtime period and ventured out into Winchester city centre to take a few photographs for you and your blog. Please find attached.

I have also looked into the origins of the "eaves" of a house. The purpose was not to protect innocent bystanders from what flowed from the contents of householders chamber pots but I was told years ago, people used to shelter under them in case of deliveries from the above windows, should they open and foul bodily waste should spill forth. The purpose in house design was to protect it from the weather.


Outdoor privies called closets­-­of­-­ease were common, but chamber pots were poured into the street, and strangers in Lon­don were warned to walk under eaves lest a housewife dump night soil on their heads. In some more affluent areas the night­-­soil man came by each morning to collect. A century later, post­-­1660, Samuel Pepys in his diary describes the contents of his close-stools and privies being funneled to a receptacle in his cellar, which was emptied periodically by people who did that work . . . which must be high up on the list of the worst jobs in history.

The term "eavesdropping" is used to describe the act of being under the eaves and listening into conversation going on inside the house. But the term was orginally used to describe the water from dew or rainfall, dropping from the eaves.

The word "loo":

An extract from Wikipedia:

"That it derives from the term "gardyloo" (a corruption of the French phrase gardez l'eau (or maybe: Gare de l'eau!) loosely translated as "watch out for the water!") which was used in medieval times when chamber pots were emptied from a window onto the street. However the first recorded usage of "loo" comes long after this term became obsolete."

A chamber pot from the time of Shakespeare,

And lastly from

"Proper manners would prescribe warning unwary pedestrians that a shower was on its way. Thus the cry of "Garden l'eau" (pronounced Gardy-loo, and meaning "Watch out for the water!") would echo up and down the streets. Over time it evolved into English slang for the toilet, or loo."

Have a magical evening and stay under the eaves to avoid a "shower" from above!

Yours sincerely

Sir John


Is that cool or what. I am so lucky, I get my own research assistant.

More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries


Related Posts with Thumbnails