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Answer 3

It appears both answers are propagating the same myth. Firstly, the parlor's primary purpose was not to accommodate the dead who lay in state. Of course, it would be used for that when needed; but that was not the room's main function. That would be a waste of space. The parlor was where one would entertain special company or would be used for special occasions. It was the room that contained the owners finest decor and trinkets. It was intended to be the most impressive room in the house and was designed primarily to impress guests.

This notion that the term "living room" was a 20th century replacement phrase for the word "parlor" doesn't appear accurate. In the book "Early Victorian House Designs" by architect William H. Ranlett (1847), you'll find a floor plan on page 68 which contains a "living room." Other floor plans in the same book contain living rooms as well. Based on this book alone, it's easy to deduce that the term "living room" was a catch-all phrase used for smaller homes that did not have a separate parlor and drawing room.

It would seem that since there were eventually more small homes with "living rooms" then there were large homes with "parlors," the term "living room" won prominence and relegated the word "parlor" to the dustbin of antiquated terms like chamber, dressing room, ante-room and vestibule.

Answer 2

Actually, the answer below is only partially correct. Up until 1918 we in America, as in Europe, called the front room of the house the Front Parlor (or Parlour in British English). When the Great Influenza hit in 1918, there were so many dead in such a short period of time, most people had no other place to put the bodies, so they piled them up in their front parlors and began calling this room the Death Room. When the Great Flu finally passed (after as many as 50 to 100 million people had died . . . many within a 4 or 5 month period of time), and people began to get back to their normal lives, they were still referring to this room as the Death Room. Ladies Home Journal then suggested that, since the Flu had passed, the front parlor was no longer a room for the dead, but for the living; therefore, it should now be called the Living Room. The name stuck. So, we have Ladies Home Journal to thank for our living rooms!

Answer 1

The "living room" is a evolved term for "parlour".
Back in the 19th century, the "parlour" was the room in the house where the recently deceased were laid out before their funeral. This became the more affirmative term "living room" in the 20th century.
Ther term "living room" is obviously the opposite of "mourning room" and thus, the "living room" was born.


To the author of Answer 3:

I never said that the primary function of the front parlor was to accomodate the dead. That was the other person's answer. The front parlor was used, essentially, as we use the living room today. Now, whether the term Living Room had been used prior to the passing of the great flu pandemic of 1918 or not is beyond my knowledge . . . it may very well have been . . . but I am certain that Ladies Home Journal had made this very suggestion under the circumstances I laid out and that was when it began to gain mass popularity.

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Q: What is the origin of the term 'living room'?
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