Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Words, as we all know, are our way of communicating and sometimes of hiding what we want to communicate.

One example might be the dish known as Welch Rarebit. Once known as Welch Rabbit, the culinary concoction dates back to Shakespeare's time. It seems, back then, only the rich in Wales could afford game from the royal forests, so rabbit was scarce. The Welch dish of melted cheese and bread jokingly became known as Rabbit.

The meal became popular and menu writers wanting to give it a more sophisticated sound, called in Welsh rarebit. A euphemism. The replacing of an unsavory word with a more pleasant one.

There is one thing we have, for which we really don't have a constant word. We sometimes call it the toilet. That word comes from French, and means a cloth on a dressing table.

In the Navy it's called the head, so named from its location, in the bulkhead of the ship. In polite circles, it's called the powder room, or the bathroom, though many times there is no bath there.

Sometimes we call it the John. The use of that word may have come from an old Harvard regulation. A 1735 rule said freshmen couldn't use the upperclassmen's privy. Only they called it "Cousin John.

In Europe it’s called the W.C. or Water Closet. In England, the loo, but perhaps the best name for the place might be from one of writer Edward Albee's plays. He called it: The Euphemism.

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