Sunday, May 25, 2008

Facials, Manicures and a little "Yee-haw!"

So do ya reckon we'll find beer and cowboys inside? And in a country of supposed teetotalers!

I am constantly finding advertisements slipped under my garage for the newest ladies' 'saloon' in town. New 'saloons' are popping up on every street corner!

Maybe a native speaker of British English could help me out here, but in the American sense my first thought of what a 'saloon' is matches the following definition from

1.a place for the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks

Now, in American English there is a clear difference between a 'salon', where you get your hair done, and a 'saloon', which we generally picture in old western movies. According to, our modern word 'saloon' came from the latin based 'salon'. In French, 'salon' means 'living room.'

1728, Anglicized form of salon (q.v.), and originally used interchangeable with it. Meaning large hall in a public place (esp. a passenger boat) is from c.1835, also used of railway cars furnished like drawing rooms. Sense of "public bar" developed by 1841, Amer.Eng."

So it seems that the Americans were the ones who started to use 'saloon' in the sense where it means a place where alcohol is consumed. I also came across the following definitions in Websters' Unabridged, all of which I have not seen in use in my experiences of American English. Is it possible that these usages are outdated and that only the western movie sense of the word 'saloon' still exists in American English?


Sa*loon"\ (s[.a]*l[=oo]n"), n. [F. salon (cf. It. salone), fr. F. salle a large room, a hall, of German or Dutch origin; cf. OHG. sal house, hall, G. saal; akin to AS. s[ae]l, sele, D. zaal, Icel. salr, Goth. saljan to dwell, and probably to L. solum ground. Cf. Sole of the foot, Soil ground, earth.]1. A spacious and elegant apartment for the reception of company or for works of art; a hall of reception, esp. a hall for public entertainments or amusements; a large room or parlor; as, the saloon of a steamboat. The gilden saloons in which the first magnates of the realm . . . gave banquets and balls. --Macaulay.

2. Popularly, a public room for specific uses; esp., a barroom or grogshop; as, a drinking saloon; an eating saloon; a dancing saloon. We hear of no hells, or low music halls, or low dancing saloons [at Athens.] --J. P. Mahaffy."

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

Pakistanis are still using the word "thrice," and so maybe they are still using this word 'saloon' in a more traditional sense. Maybe it's not a silly spelling mistake after all!

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