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Thread: Drawing room?

  1. #1
    Rudi7 is offline Newbie
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    Default Drawing room?

    Please consider the following room:

    The house is a late Victorian townhouse. The room (A) has a size of about 40 sqm, or 400 sq ft., a nice but not elaborate chimneypiece with sofas in front of it, a plastered ceiling, grand piano, a few mahogany pieces. A door (regular, not double or sliding) leads to the dining room, another to the hall.

    No television set, which is in another, smaller room (B) upstairs, used for watching television and as a spare guest room. But it's in room (A) that the family sit and read or play board games, in other words, room (A) isn't just for formal entertaining of guests once in a while.

    For this sort of room, would upper and upper-middle class Brits say "drawing room", "sitting room" or something else?

    Would it be different if the room were used in the same way, but had a desk and lots of bookshelves along the walls?

    (I know that there are regional differences and the like, that especially in America, that would be a living room, that many Brits wouldn't fuss and call any lounge a lounge, and that Mrs Bucket would call any sort of "main room" a drawing room, that's why I specifically ask about uppers and upper-middles.)

  2. #2
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    OK; I'll stick my head above the parapet of British class distinctions and usage
    In my experience, it would be a matter of individual family preference as to whether room (A) would be called a drawing room or a sitting room. It meets the criteria for both, in that it has seating facilities [ie "sitting room"], and guests are entertained there [a prerequisite for a "drawing room"].
    If there was another similar room downstairs [a family "snug"] where guests were not generally entertained, then that room would be the "sitting room", and room (A) would certainly be the "drawing room".
    Neither room would ever, ever, be referred to as a "lounge".
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

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    Rudi7 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    So, if, referring to the room I described, I said "I played the piano in XY's drawing room the other day," to to an upper-class Brit who has a country house with an undoubtable drawing room, he or she wouldn't think it was a pretentious term, and might well call his or her own in Kensington or Fulham a drawing room, too?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    It comes from withdrawing room - a private room to withdraw to- and ladies would go there at the end of dinner to let men smoke and drink at the dining table. It had different uses earlier as a private room. I would only use the term if the place also had a living-room/snug, and if that was the term used by the person living there. I don't hear it used much nowadays.

  5. #5
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It comes from withdrawing room - a private room to withdraw to- and ladies would go there at the end of dinner to let men smoke and drink at the dining table. It had different uses earlier as a private room. I would only use the term if the place also had a living-room/snug, and if that was the term used by the person living there. I don't hear it used much nowadays.
    Apart from smoking and drinking they also talked about things that the ladies needn't bother their pretty heads about (money, and - I suspect - sex and rude jokes).

    I've heard 'living room' used in British English - much more frequently than 'drawing room'. (I spent my youth [2-18] in a Victorian townhouse, which didn't have a 'drawing room', though it did have a room that I have to admit we called 'the lounge' - a word that I still [occasionally and much to MrsK's annoyance - I just wasn't brung up proper ] use to refer to our sitting room).

    b

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    Unless you are conversing with very rich people who actually have these massive houses with many rooms, I don't think you need to worry about it too much. I certainly don't know anyone who has a drawing room. I associate the word with old mansions which, these days, I go to visit as a tourist because they belong to the National Trust.

    In the UK, the room with the TV, sofa etc is the sitting room, living room or lounge. A lot of the usage is regional, not classist.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    Also, people are more likely to use such a room for something useful like a study today, and there's much less smoking around dining tables.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    In my youth (1950s) the special room, used only on high days and holidays, was simply the front room. As we moved slightly up the social scale, it became the lounge and then the sitting room. We never aspired to a drawing room. That room contained a couch, which later became a settee or sofa - we could never quite decide which was the posher. It didn't really matter - we were rarely allowed to sit on it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    I can't believe I didn't include "front room". That's exactly what we called it in the house I grew up in! My memory must be going.

    When we moved into the house, it was a classic Edwardian two-storey terraced house. Downstairs were the front room, dining room, breakfast room and kitchen (and an outside toilet!). Upstairs were three bedrooms, the bathroom and a separate toilet. My parents knocked through downstairs so we had one long room which was the front room/dining room and then the breakfast room and kitchen just became one big long kitchen. We did still have a breakfast table in there though. We had a dining table what had been the dining room but it was replaced by a piano and we ate in the kitchen on the rare occasion we ate together.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Drawing room?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rudi7 View Post
    So, if, referring to the room I described, I said "I played the piano in XY's drawing room the other day," to to an upper-class Brit who has a country house with an undoubtable drawing room, he or she wouldn't think it was a pretentious term, and might well call his or her own in Kensington or Fulham a drawing room, too?
    An upper-class Brit with a country house wouldn't dream of having a piano in his drawing room.

    It would be in the music room.

    Rover

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