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Scottish – Shit Scared – Interesting Tale on Toilets

Gardyloo – a strange expression to scare away people from incoming bucket filled with shit.

In my recent visit to Scotland, came across an interesting/disgusting story about this island nation.

As many of us would know, Scotland has been associated with Nobel laureates and many scientific discoveries like James Watt Steam Engine, Graham Bell Telephone, Alexander Fleming’s penicillin among many others.

There is one unique practice that happened many years ago in Scotland of which not many of us would know about.

On our way to Edinburgh castle, there are many old majestic buildings on each side of the road, reminding us of Scotland’s glorious past. 

While narrating stories about Sottish discoveries and history, suddenly our guide shouted in her Scottish accent – “Gardyloo” “Gardyloo”.

Looking at our bewildered faces, she explained the meaning of this strange expression – get out of the loo’s way. During the 17th and 18th centuries,  people used to throw away the human waste (shit) out on the streets – simultaneously shouting this phrase – “Gardyloo” “Gardyloo”.

The process was very simple, the households would simply collect the human waste and throw the buckets full of shitload on the street and the phrase was used to warn the passersby on the street.

As a passerby, one would really need to keep his/her ears on a high alert – to avoid getting dumped with shit.

Scotland Gardyloo’s expression has most likely given birth to the word “loo”.

While the debate still rages on who invented the toilets, interestingly a Scotland-born gentleman has the interesting discovery related to toilets.

Alexander Cumming, is credited as the first person to have a patent for the S-shaped plumbing in 1775, which laid the foundations for the modern flush toilet.

The S shape bending acted as a trap that uses a path to capture water to prevent gases from entering homes while allowing waste to pass through.

Gardyloo is derived from the French word “guardez l’eau”, which means to keep an eye on the water.

Scotland Gardyloo expression was used until the 1930s after which indoor toilets came to be built in all the Scottish homes, relieving the poor pedestrians of the misery of this horrible experience.


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