from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A card game in which each player contributes stakes to a pool.
  • n. Chiefly British A toilet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A toilet.
  • n. A card game
  • v. To beat in the game of loo by winning every trick.
  • n. A hot, dusty wind in Bihar and the Punjab.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An old game played with five, or three, cards dealt to each player from a full pack. When five cards are used the highest card is the knave of clubs or (if so agreed upon) the knave of trumps; -- formerly called lanterloo.
  • n. A modification of the game of “all fours” in which the players replenish their hands after each round by drawing each a card from the pack.
  • transitive v. To beat in the game of loo by winning every trick.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To beat in the game of loo, as a player that has declared.
  • Same as halloo.
  • n. A dialectal (Scotch) form of love.
  • n. A game of cards.
  • n. The deposit, generally of three chips, which the players make in the pool in the game of loo.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a toilet in Britain


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Short for obsolete lanterloo, from French lanturlu, a meaningless refrain, loo.
Origin unknown.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Unknown; possible origins include:

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Chinese

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Hindi, from Sanskrit  (ulkā).



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  • Wait a minute, you might be on to something there: The game is also known as lant, which also means “stale urine”. If it’s not related, it’s at least iroquoisy.

    October 9, 2011

  • Back from planet [Ambigram, with his letters neatly scrambled and his digits freshly rotated and lowercased]

    I think that etymology applies to the card game division loo, which (I assume) has a distinct ancestry.

    Suddenly [relieved] (Oh, that’s to what bilby was alluding.)

    October 9, 2011

  • Wait, doesn't the etymology hint at lanterloo ("from French lanturlu")?

    October 9, 2011

  • "I'm a father of two

    And read in the loo"

    Just joined the site and looving it! The little ditty above is an excerpt from my profile. I'm indebted to the poster of "loo" here for the inspiration.

    September 21, 2011

  • Head is Navy usage.

    September 20, 2011

  • You lot are definitely speaking from way beyond Through the Loo King Glass. This thread is getting going gone Hatter and Hatter.

    September 17, 2011

  • Gosh. So many unexamined assumptions in rolig's last post. Apparently in his world entertaining people on the bedroom floor is out of the question. Which seems limiting, to say the least.

    September 17, 2011

  • Slowly backing away Golly, bilby, that sounds . . . swell . . . , but I gotta go . . . uh . . . manicure my . . . um . . . thesauri . . . now. On a different website! Planet! Yeah. OK, gotta go, bye! Flees

    September 17, 2011

  • Quite. I'm single and share an apartment with a pilot and used car salesman and I'm not about to ____ etc.

    I'd much rather play at hidesous with Foxy and Dan.

    September 17, 2011

  • Dan: I wonder if French "lieu" is related to Spanish "lugar", place. Seems reasonable. If so, it's great that "loo" is related to the Spanish - and presumably the Latin - for "place".

    September 17, 2011

  • You Aussies must be terrible prudes if you won't take a shower while your missus lays a cable. I'm surprised.

    September 17, 2011

  • The etymology here appears to refer to division loo (although this wouldn’t be bad terminology for the quite practical arrangement bilby described). I assumed the (currently) more common “loo” was anglicized from l’eau, as in the splendidly historical word gardyloo* (garde à l’eau), but the Online Etymology Dictionarysuggests it’s “probably from Fr. lieux d’aisances, ‘lavatory,’ lit. ‘place of ease’.”

    * I am compelled to mention this word, as it was one of many that doomed me to a life of logophilia.

    † The other (less reliable) OED

    September 17, 2011

  • (Damn your typo, sionnach—I thought “hidesous” might be an actual word, presumably involving hidden old French copper nickels. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I must visit the lavoratory.)

    September 17, 2011

  • Isn't the point of living in Paris to acclimatise oneself to people speaking French with hideous accents?

    "Very few houses have a room with a bath but no toilet in it these days." We might be getting closer to the nub here as I'd say it's standard in Australia in most houses. Back in the day the dunny would have been an outbuilding behind the house, while the bathroom was a room inside the house proper. Ever since we allowed the compost flusher inside the manor it's generally in a separate room. After all, having a shower AND taking a dump are not done concurrently hence the access to facilities is somewhat enhanced as two members of the household may be using them in privacy at the same time.

    September 17, 2011

  • My current primitive apartment here in Paris has a bathroom with a bath, but without a toilet in it. I would take a photo, but I'd feel obliged to clean the tub first, and there is an NCIS marathon on Canal 6 and I have to see if Ziva gets away from the bad guys, all of whom are speaking French with hidesous accents

    September 16, 2011

  • I've only ever seen one house with a bathtub in a room with no toilet--but I would have never thought to call that room "the bathroom." For me (smack dab in the middle of North America) a room with a bathtub in it would be called something like "that room with the bathtub in it."

    September 16, 2011

  • If someone said they were having their bathroom - or their loo - renovated, then I would indeed assume that the crapper was being ripped from its moorings. Very few houses have a room with a bath but no toilet in it these days, so the sense of "bathroom" as distinct from "loo" is obsolete.

    Rolig, there is actually a transatlantic distinction re: "go to the bathroom". The sense of "urinate and/or defecate" is pretty much confined to North America, I think. In the UK one would say "the dog crapped in / shat in the kitchen", or in more polite language, "fouled" or "soiled" the kitchen. So I think in this case the Americans take the periphrasis a step further than the Brits do, as they do also by using the ridiculous term "restroom".

    I've never heard it called "the head". Surely there is a list somewhere?

    September 16, 2011

  • In American (and I suppose British, too?) English the idiom "go to the bathroom" doesn't mean go to a certain room, it means "to urinate and/or defecate". Which is why the sentence: "The dog went to the bathroom in the kitchen" makes sense. So the original example is misleading. Also problematic for Americans is that a room with just a toilet can certainly be called a bathroom, but it is just as likely to be called other things as well, ranging from "the head" and "the john" to "the powder room" -- terms that, I think, would never be used for a room that had a bathtub but no toilet. Unlike in Europe, where having a separate room just for the toilet (with or without a sink) is not unusual in homes, especially older ones, in the standard American home the toilet and the bathtub are usually in the same room, though there may also be another room with just a toilet and a sink ("the powder room"), which is there for convenience (e.g. it will be on the floor where one does one's entertaining, or in the basement; it will probably not be on the floor with the bedrooms).

    September 16, 2011

  • You've lost me completely.

    Of course a room with no toilet would be called a bathroom. If it had a bath. If it didn't have a bath it would just be a room.

    If a person says "I'm going to the bathroom" I would assume toilet, but only because of the footsie you refer to. It's very obtuse. A person says bathroom, means toilet, means loo, therefore loo is a substitute for bathroom? Only works in a limited number of of contexts. "I'm having the bathroom renovated." Would you assume the crapper being ripped out or new tiles in the shower recess, etc? Me the latter. You can't win an argument simply by putting ergo in it, though it's a nice touch.

    September 16, 2011

  • My money is on the W.C.

    But equally, would one call a room with no toilet a "bathroom"? In your scenario, were "loo" to be replaced with "bathroom", I bet most people would still infer that the person was going to the room with the W.C. Ergo, "bathroom" is a synonym of "loo".

    The way the English language tiptoes around this subject is pretty pathetic. We require a polite, specific word for the thing itself (crapper or bog, perhaps) and also for the room (dunny, shithouse?) - words which aren't euphemisms. I'm fed up with restrooms and lavatories and washrooms and privies.

    September 16, 2011

  • It's odd that the tweets pull up 2 different Indonesian usages.

    “Makan tai aja loo~”


    "You can just go eat shit."

    - loo is standing in for lu, which is borrowed from a Chinese dialect and is used in Jakarta slang to mean 'you'.

    “Jangan di tambah lagi la infusnyaa hari ini akuu uda di kasi pulang loo :((((”


    "(They) didn't put the drip in again today so I was allowed to return home."

    - loo appears to be a hip spelling of lho, which is a particle used simply for emphasis.

    September 16, 2011

  • My point is this. Let's say we have an arrangement where there is a water closet in one room and next to it a separate bathroom with tub and hand basin. If a person then says, "I'm going to the loo" (not in or on, as that would be giving it away), which room is your money fancying?

    September 16, 2011

  • Bilby, in my experience "loo" can refer to both the bathroom and the toilet. One can be on the loo or in the loo.

    September 15, 2011

  • Like the first CD definition here. A Scot might say he's looking for loo, but don't believe him. He's just cottaging.

    September 15, 2011

  • No, it's a British form of toilet.

    September 15, 2011

  • it's also the british form of bathroom

    September 15, 2011

  • Newfoundland nickname for the Common Loon.

    January 12, 2009

  • Love the first WeirdNet definition. As if there is a single pissoir somewhere in Britian--Waterloo Station, probably--which has been affectionately dubbed "Loo."

    September 9, 2008

  • I just a read a story in the paper the other day saying this woman built a luxury loo in London exclusively for women. Just to get in you have to pay 5 pounds. Seems so ridiculous.

    January 14, 2007