[Vocabulary] Drawing room?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Rudi7

New member
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
German
Home Country
Germany
Current Location
Germany
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.)
 

Grumpy

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
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".
 

Rudi7

New member
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
German
Home Country
Germany
Current Location
Germany
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?
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
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.
 

BobK

Harmless drudge
Staff member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
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.
:up: 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
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
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.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
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.
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
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.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
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.
 

Rover_KE

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
England
Current Location
England
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
 

JarekSteliga

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2011
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
I just wasn't brung up proper ;-)

b


Is "brung" a collateral of improper upbringing :roll: or is it a proper past participle form of "bring", which my dictionary failed to print?
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
It is used exactly to emphasise the fact that the person was not brought up correctly, to the extent that they were not even taught correct English grammar. "Brung" does not exist.
 

Rudi7

New member
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
German
Home Country
Germany
Current Location
Germany
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.

I'm not sure. There might be a separate music room, but not necessarily. Anyway, this might well be different in a town house or even just a flat.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
I'm not sure. There might be a separate music room, but not necessarily. Anyway, this might well be different in a town house or even just a flat.

Getting a piano into a flat, unless it's a ground-floor flat, is never a fun experience.
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
Getting a piano into a flat, unless it's a ground-floor flat, is never a fun experience.
Rather off-topic, but I once, in China, had the dubious pleasure of watching, across a courtyard, the windows (including frames) being taken out from a sixth-floor flat and a very dodgy-looking block and tackle being fitted to an even more dubious-looking lump of wood, hand-supported above the window, in order to raise an upright piano six floors. It was the sight of one of the people involved hanging from the boom with one hand, with one foot on the lower edge of the window hole, guiding the ropes with his free hand, that clicked in my second-hand vertigo, and I was unable to witness the completion of this task. My partner told me afterwards that the piano and the participants survived.
 
Last edited:

SoothingDave

VIP Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Is "brung" a collateral of improper upbringing :roll: or is it a proper past participle form of "bring", which my dictionary failed to print?

Like "spring, sprang, sprung" is "bring, brang, brung."

Of course, the proper English is "bring, brought, brought."
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Is "brung" a collateral of improper upbringing :roll: or is it a proper past participle form of "bring", which my dictionary failed to print?

It's an example of deviant usage- the deliberate breaking of language rules to achieve an effect.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
It's an example of deviant usage- the deliberate breaking of language rules to achieve an effect.

Ohhhh, deviant usage makes me the think of things much worse than language! ;-)
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
The only deviance allowed in our drawing room in Tdol Towers, and then only on the first Monday of the month, was a spot of grammatical abuse. ;-)
 

Rudi7

New member
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
German
Home Country
Germany
Current Location
Germany
The only deviance allowed in our drawing room in Tdol Towers, and then only on the first Monday of the month, was a spot of grammatical abuse. ;-)

Deviance from what? Only small people have rules.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top