Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • interj. Used by servants in medieval Scotland to warn passers-by of waste about to be thrown from a window into the street below. The phrase was still in use as late the 1930s and '40s, when many people had no indoor toilets.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An old cry in throwing water, slops, etc., from the windows in Edingburgh.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Look out for the water: a cry formerly used in Edinburgh, Scotland, to warn passengers to beware of slops about to be thrown out of the window.

Etymologies

French garde à l'eau translated means "beware of the water." (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • * That it derives from the term "gardyloo" (a corruption of the French phrase gardez l'eau (or maybe: Garde 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.

    Yahoo! Answers: Latest Questions

  • I believe the auld women wad hae agreed, for Luckie MacPhail sent down the lass to tell my friend Mrs. Crombie that she had made the gardyloo out of the wrang window, out of respect for twa

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • Mrs. Glass, who had been in long and anxious expectation, now rushed, full of eager curiosity and open-mouthed interrogation, upon our heroine, who was positively unable to sustain the overwhelming cataract of her questions, which burst forth with the sublimity of a grand gardyloo: -

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • I believe the auld women wad hae agreed, for Luckie MacPhail sent down the lass to tell my friend Mrs. Crombie that she had made the gardyloo out of the wrang window, out of respect for twa Highlandmen that were speaking Gaelic in the close below the right ane.

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • On my first arrival, I was somewhat surprised at my Spanish acquaintances always putting, up their umbrellas when abroad after nightfall in the streets; the city had its evil customs, it seemed, as well as others of more note, with this disadvantage, that no one had the discretion to sing out gardyloo.

    Tom Cringle's Log

  • Mrs. Crombie that she had made the gardyloo out of the wrang window, out of respect for twa Highlandmen that were speaking Gaelic in the close below the right ane.

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Complete

  • Mrs. Glass, who had been in long and anxious expectation, now rushed, full of eager curiosity and open-mouthed interrogation, upon our heroine, who was positively unable to sustain the overwhelming cataract of her questions, which burst forth with the sublimity of a grand gardyloo: --

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Complete

  • Mrs. Glass, who had been in long and anxious expectation, now rushed, full of eager curiosity and open-mouthed interrogation, upon our heroine, who was positively unable to sustain the overwhelming cataract of her questions, which burst forth with the sublimity of a grand gardyloo: — “Had she seen the Duke, God bless him — the

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • Which leads me to a long-held assumption -- gardyloo and other etymologies notwithstanding -- that loo is nothing more complicated than the English pronunciation of the French lieu, used euphemistically, like so many Gallic expressions for a variety of taboo terms (lingerie, derrière, douche, et al.).

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XIV No 2

Comments

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  • See also (the probably unrelated) loo.

    September 17, 2011

  • "Gardyloo" is derived from the old French expression garde à l'eau (look out for the water); used in Edinburgh, Scotland.
    For a little "chuckle, chuckle," check out the Gardyloo Sisters

    January 17, 2009

  • Weird. It's spreading.

    May 19, 2008

  • Hey! I do that!

    May 19, 2008

  • I have a friend who uses this word a lot. But not while throwing slops from the window into the street--mostly when tossing laundry downstairs from the second floor. :-)

    May 17, 2008

  • Used as a warning cry when throwing slops from the window into the street. (WWFTD)

    May 17, 2008