Monday, February 26, 2024

Miss Manners can always be relied upon

(or as she would probably phrase it, "Miss Manners, upon whom one can always rely")

The Divine Miss M

Dear Miss Manners: Could you please educate us on the difference between a living room, sitting room, drawing room, saloon, library, lounge, parlor and boudoir?

These distinctions have gone out of use, as they refer to activities that have disappeared now that people need only their own devices for company. But for the sake of social history, Miss Manners will try:

Boudoir: a bedroom, or antechamber to one, where a lady receives her intimates. No, not necessarily those intimates, but her confidantes, her hairdresser, her social secretary and, briefly, her young children.

Library: a room lined with books, whether or not they are read.*

Lounge: where people retreat in a commercial establishment — say, the smoking area or the ladies' bathroom.

Saloon: a rowdy drinking place, probably with gambling and the occasional shootout. Or did you mean “salon?” In that case, please see below.

Living room: kept empty so it would be clean for company.

Sitting room: where the family was allowed to be if banished from the living room — and where they often gathered when there was only one household television set.

Drawing room: reserved for distinguished company.

Salon: reserved for guests who would be expected to wittily ponder the meaning of life.

Parlor: where you would be on view before your funeral.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

* Editor's note - this would not apply to any of us!


JaneGS said...

I always loved reading Miss Manners columns and my brother and I have been known to send each other a clipping that we deemed appropriate for the other! She hasn't been in my paper for years, so I have fallen out of the habit. I'm a bit surprised she is still with us.

thecuecard said...

Wow that's good. I remember parlor being used in a lot of novels ... I thought it was like a side room where guests had iced tea or cooled off after coming in from outside. Hmm.

Deniz Bevan said...

Oh, very helpful!