Close stool

Close stool
Toilet chair

A close stool, used from at least the sixteenth century until the introduction of indoor plumbing, was an enclosed cabinet or box at sitting height with an opening in the top, which might be disguised by a folding outer lid. The close stool contained a pewter or earthenware chamberpot to receive the feces when the user sat on it to evacuate. It was sometimes called a necessary stool or a night stool. The eighteenth-century euphemism was convenience; the term was further euphemised in the nineteenth century with the term night commode, which John Gloag suggested[1] may have derived its significance from a design for a "balance night stool" in Thomas Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary (London, 1803); Sheraton's design was "made to have the appearance of a small commode standing upon legs; when it is used the seat part presses down to a proper height by the hand, and afterwards it rises by means of lead weights, hung to the seat, by lines passing over pulleys at each end, all which are enclosed in a case."

Commode survived into the twentieth century to refer to the flush toilet, itself originally euphemistic.


  1. ^ John Gloag, A Short Dictionary of Furniture, rev. ed. 1969, s.v. "close stool, close stool chair".

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Close-stool — n. A utensil to hold a chamber vessel, for the use of the sick and infirm. It is usually in the form of a box, with a seat and tight cover. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • close|stool — «KLOHS STOOL», noun. a box with a seat and a lid, containing a chamber pot, such as for use in a sickroom …   Useful english dictionary

  • close stool —    a portable lavatory    Originally for use in the closet1, but now usually found in the sickroom, if at all:     Your lion, that holds his poll axe sitting on a close stool, will be given to Ajax. (Shakespeare, Love s Labour s Lost see jakes… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • close-stool — noun A chamber pot enclosed in a stool or box; a commode. other Princes, [...] to dispatch their weightiest affaires make often their close stoole, their regall Throne or Councel chamber …   Wiktionary

  • close-stool — /klohz stoohl , klohs /, n. a stool having a seat with a hole, beneath which a chamber pot is placed. Also called necessary stool. [1375 1425; late ME] * * * …   Universalium

  • close stool — n. necessary stool, stool that has a seat with a hole in which a chamber pot is placed (used for sick or disabled persons) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • close-stool — /klohz stoohl , klohs /, n. a stool having a seat with a hole, beneath which a chamber pot is placed. Also called necessary stool. [1375 1425; late ME] …   Useful english dictionary

  • close-stool — noun historical a covered chamber pot enclosed in a wooden stool …   English new terms dictionary

  • close — close; close·ly; close·ness; close·out; close·stool; close·up; en·close; fore·close; un·close; dis·close; par·close; …   English syllables

  • stool — bar·stool; birth·stool; bishop·stool; close·stool; cuck·stool; de·stool; en·stool; fald·stool; frith·stool; stool; stool·ie; stool·ing; de·stool·ment; …   English syllables