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Parlour (or parlor), from the French word parloir, from parler ("to speak"), denotes an "audience chamber". It corresponds to what the Turks call a kiosk, as in Judges 3:20 in the Bible (the "summer parlour"), or as in the margin of the Revised Version ("the upper chamber of cooling"), a small room built on the roof of the house, with open windows to catch the breeze, and having a door communicating with the outside by which persons seeking an audience may be admitted.

In parts of the United Kingdom and the United States, parlours are common names for certain types of food service houses, restaurants (i.e. "ice cream parlour" and "pizza parlour") or special service areas, such as tattoo parlours. The dialect-specific usage of this term (i.e. as opposed to "ice cream shop" or "pizzeria") varies by region. "Parlour" is also used in other settings, such as "Beer parlor"[1], wine parlor[2], or, in at least one case, "Spaghetti parlor."[3]The term Parlour has even been seen to describe a coffee shop as the "coffee parlor."[4]

The "inner parlours" in 1 Chronicles 28:11 in the Bible were the small rooms or chambers which Solomon built all round two sides and one end of the Temple (1 Kings 6:5), "side chambers", or they may have been, as some think, the porch and the holy place.

In 1 Samuel 9:22 in the Bible, the Revised Version reads "guest chamber", a chamber at the high place specially used for sacrificial feasts.

In medieval Christian usage, the parlour was one of two rooms in a monastery. The 'outer parlour' was the room where the monks or nuns could receive a visitor and conduct business with outsiders. It was generally located in the west range of the buildings of the cloister, close to the main entrance. The 'inner parlour' was located off the cloister next to the chapter house in the east range of the monastery. Most orders required a general silence in the cloister, which was the place where the monks engaged in study, and the inner parlour was a convenient place for the monks to engage in conversation freely.

In modern use, the parlour is a formal sitting room in a large house or mansion. In the late nineteenth century, it was often a formal room used only on Sundays or special occasions, and closed during the week. The parlour contained a family's best furnishings, works of art and other display items. The body of a recently deceased member of the household would be laid out in the parlour while funeral preparations were made. As a result of a twentieth-century effort by architects and decorators to strip the parlour of its burial and mourning associations, helped by the advent of funeral parlors, in most homes the parlour has been replaced by the living room.


  1. ^"beer+parlor"&sig=ACfU3U1dqti31dAO-P_DH-zawoY9VeAuIg
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  3. ^"gene's+spaghetti+parlor"&source=web&ots=LYBdHWJFOB&sig=NwQiLd58EOkECYhwVIua6aZ5sdY&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result
  4. ^

External links

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

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