Naming Rooms

I guess all families have different words to describe rooms in the house.

There’s the business of what you call that room that could be The Drawing Room, The Sitting-Room, The Front Room, The Parlour … basically the room where you receive visitors.

And how about The Toilet, The WC, The Lav, The Loo …?

Or those rooms that have their very own names? We’ve had a few of those in our time. My mother seemed to be the one who christened them. There was Narvik in our house in Clonmel, Co, Tipperary. It was an extension with a shower and toilet and it was absolutely freezing. Mother must have been reading a wintery novel set in Norway around that time. Narvik is one of the most northerly towns in the world and seems to be pretty nippy most of the year.

We also had a Steptoe in our house in Drogheda, Co. Louth. This was Dad’s ‘bolt hole’ and was called after the TV Show Steptoe and Son,  which was so popular back in the 1970s. Dad always had quite a collection of bits and pieces and the whole array reminded Mother of the  scrap merchants on Steptoe and Son that we watched on telly every week.


What kinds of names do you give YOUR rooms?

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

34 thoughts on “Naming Rooms”

    1. Hi Rosie, interesting point about how people come to name rooms and the assumptions we make about the process. I kind of assumed that everyone would have a room with a ‘nickname’ like we always seemed to.

    1. HaHa Eric, what about all those theories about using the brain to keep it from diminishing?
      Must say, I’d prefer to play around with room names than muddle myself up with PINS and Passwords. How about the Pin Room? I’m sure there were lots of those in the days when sewing was the surfing of the time.

      1. My grandmother (who hailed from County Mayo) was a seamstress. She had a (converted bed) room upstairs in her home that my grandfather called “the Annex.” He steered clear of that room. 🙂

  1. Hmmm, well, a few got special names – like the bathroom was called the Throne Room – my Dad used to say he was going to sit on his throne and for us to not bother him. The parlour/living room was often called the Front Room – mostly because it was in the front of the house. Those are the only two I can recall – but more may pop into my brain.

  2. Definitely we had the parlour in my grandmothers house, freezing cold, and the only person that was ever invited in there was the priest when he came to visit…poor man must have been frozen!!

  3. We call front room the parlor (not living room) and the cellar is called just that not basement, and the go to is the bathroom not lavatory or washroom (which could be the laundry) We have a front and back porch not varanda. As a child we had the ice man/oil man, the peddlar or trash man, we had the insurance man, the salesman that came to sell his wares and the doctor use to make housecalls. We have breakfast, lunch and supper not dinner. How confusing if one doesn’t understand the lingo.

    1. Joni, how right you are about the lingo. Public toilets in Ireland generally have little symbols on them and the matchstick people always have me standing there trying to work out the women’s from the men’s. The Irish terms Fir (men) and Mna (women) can be on them too which isn’t much use to someone without Irish!

  4. We have ‘the computer room’ which has no longer any computer in it as everyone has a laptop, and a spare room upstairs we call the short quirky name ‘caoimhe’s old bedroom’.

  5. U.S.: formal = living room. informal = family room or den. WC = Bathroom. Ladies Room or just Ladies. Potty. Eat in kitchen = breakfast nook. Formal = Dining Room. Or in small apartment: Dining area. Open concept with everything except the bedroom = living area.

  6. Lovely names… I don’t think I’ve ever named any rooms, but it’s certainly a good idea to start naming them. 🙂

  7. I did not know it prior to now, but Sanford and Son was the US adaptation of Steptoe and Son, although it was apparently not as well done as Steptoe and Son.

  8. What a fascinating line of thought and discussion! Narvik is great! What an imaginative family you come from. We had Dad’s workshop in the basement. My playroom in the same basement. Living room was the room for company and for family time together. But then we got a house with a family room and the living room became the empty room used only 2x a year or to fold laundry in. I had an office in my current house, but now it’s Kana’s room (my black cat)–everyone calls it that because she has to sleep in there at night.

  9. I guess I am un-imaginative as well. The only room I have named in my condo is the “princess room” a spare bedroom I created for when my besty’s daughter comes to stay with her “Aunty Cao.” Parlor is such a deeply Southern term in my world. It is the front room of a house used only for weddings, births and funerals. (ew)

  10. Having only 3 rooms, naming them isn’t the problem. ‘The other room’ usually suffices, wherever you are. Fitting everything in them, now, that’s a different story.

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