Killing the Living Room

“Living Room” is an awful term. Don’t get me wrong, the sign effectively references its object. Instead, it is an awful term because, if taken literally, it’s too general to specify any one particular type of room, and not only when interpreting “living” in its biological sense. Even when using the word in its proverbial sense (e.g. living the dream), it doesn’t narrow things down. I live sometimes in my kitchen too (actually, in my current apartment, my kitchen and my living room are just one big room, so I suppose that’s not the greatest example. But still.)

The term “Bedroom” makes sense, as it’s the room with the bed in it. Entry hall is the room through which you enter. Office, bathroom, dining room, you get the picture. I’m not sure what kitchen means, but it too definitionally specifies one particular room (The internet says “Kitchen” is Middle English kichene, from Old English cycene, probably from Vulgar Latin cocna, from Late Latin coquna, from feminine of Latin coqunus, of cooking, from coquus, cook, from coquere, to cook). “Living Room” would seem to apply to every room in the building. It’d be like instead of calling it “Soccer” we referred to it as a “Ball Game.”

‘Hey dude, you wanna go play a ball game?’
‘Yea, sure, which one?’
‘Alright, let’s go grab the ball, it’s in the living room.’
‘Okay, but it’s going to take forever to search the whole house, especially when I still don’t know what type of ball we’re looking for.’

We need a term for the type of room, too. It’s different than a sitting room, where high-class individuals welcome their guests. It’s not a den. A decent approximation would be “Family Room,” but this term strikes me now as sucking for the very same reason; don’t bedrooms in which parents and children sleep count as family rooms too?

This picture came up in my image search for "Living Room"

I don’t really have a suggestion as to what term we should use. I’m the problem, not the solution. The real issue is that there’s nothing you do in the Living Room that you don’t do in other rooms. The kitchen is the only room you usually make food in. The bedroom is the only room you usually sleep in. Hopefully the bathroom is the only room you relieve yourself in. Watching TV isn’t necessarily unique to the living room; I have one in my bedroom. Neither is the presence of a couch, or a lamp, or books to read.

I don’t know what we should call it, so I suppose Living Room will do for now. But in time, with the help from you, the readers, we’ll hopefully be able to end the scourge.

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to post them in the comments section below.

And now, a random picture….

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