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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.

On my recent visit to Scotland, I discovered an interesting/disgusting story about this island nation.

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

One unique practice happened many years ago in Scotland that many of us would not know about.

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

Scotland Gardyloo

While narrating stories about Scottish discoveries and history, suddenly, our tour 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 in the region followed a strange practice of discarding human waste. Household used to simply throw away their shit out on the streets – simultaneously shouting this phrase – “Gardyloo” “Gardyloo.”

The process was straightforward, the households would collect the human waste and throw the buckets full of shitload on the street, and the phrase was shouted to warn the passersby on the road.

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

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

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.

Interestingly, a Scotland-born gentleman has an exciting discovery related to toilets.

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

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

Speaking about Toilets, Indian Railways also has a humourous story, which led to the introduction of toilets in Indian trains. You can read it here.




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