Parlour vs. Parlor — What's the Difference?
"Parlour" is the British spelling, and "parlor" is the American spelling; both refer to a sitting room in a private house or a room for special functions.
Difference Between Parlour and Parlor
Table of Contents
"Parlour" is how the term is spelled in British English. It denotes a sitting room in a private house or a space for specific commercial services, such as a "beauty parlour." "Parlor," however, is the American English spelling for the same kind of room or establishment, like "ice cream parlor." The meaning between the two is identical, but the spelling reflects the regional usage.
"Parlour" carries the same connotations and uses as "parlor," signifying a place for socializing or conducting certain types of businesses. In historical contexts, both terms may also refer to a reception area, particularly in an institutional setting like a funeral home. Regardless of the spelling, both terms may have a quaint or old-fashioned connotation in modern English.
In terms of usage, "parlour" will be found in British, Canadian, and other Commonwealth countries' publications and signage. Conversely, "parlor" is used in the United States and is the spelling Americans are familiar with. When writing in a specific English dialect, it's important to maintain consistency in spelling.
While "parlour" might be used in literature to evoke a certain British flavor or historicity, "parlor" would likely be used in American texts to convey the same meaning. In other words, the choice of spelling can also contribute to the setting and atmosphere in writing.
Finally, it should be noted that neither spelling is incorrect. The choice between "parlour" and "parlor" should be guided by the intended audience and the convention of the language variant being employed.
Found in British and Commonwealth texts
Found in American texts
Preferred in the UK, Canada, etc.
Preferred in the US
May imply a more formal British setting
Implies an American setting or usage
Beauty parlour, funeral parlour
Ice cream parlor, funeral parlor
Compare with Definitions
A sitting room in a private house.
The guests were seated in the parlour.
A sitting room in a private residence.
They gathered in the parlor to play games.
A shop providing a specific service.
She visited the beauty parlour for a makeover.
A place of business specializing in a particular service.
We'll meet at the ice cream parlor at six.
A room in a public building or place of business for receiving guests.
The hotel parlour was elegantly decorated.
A business providing personal services, such as massages.
She booked a session at the massage parlor.
A room for the reception and entertainment of visitors to one's home.
Tea was served in the front parlour.
A living room of a house, often used for entertaining.
The family's antique furniture adorned the parlor.
An establishment offering specialized services, like tattooing.
He got his tattoo at the local tattoo parlour.
A room for guests in a public establishment.
The funeral parlor was quiet and somber.
A room in a private home set apart for the entertainment of visitors.
A small lounge or sitting room affording limited privacy, as at an inn or tavern.
A business establishment with one or more rooms equipped and furnished for a special function
A tanning parlor.
A funeral parlor.
An ice-cream parlor.
The living room of a house, or a room for entertaining guests; a room for talking; a sitting-room or drawing room
(archaic) The apartment in a monastery or nunnery where the residents are permitted to meet and converse with each other or with visitors from the outside.
(archaic) A comfortable room in a public house.
A covered open-air patio.
A shop or other business selling goods or services specified by context.
A tattoo parlor
A shed used for milking cattle.
(Philippines) beauty parlor
A room for business or social conversation, for the reception of guests, etc.
A room in an inn or club where visitors can be received.
Reception room in an inn or club where visitors can be received
A room in a private house or establishment where people can sit and talk and relax
Is parlour a dated term?
"Parlour" can sound old-fashioned, but it's still in use, particularly in certain contexts.
Can both parlour and parlor be used in writing?
Yes, but it depends on whether you're using British or American English.
Can I find a parlour on a ship?
Yes, ships may have a parlour, though it's often called a lounge.
Should I use parlour or parlor in Canada?
In Canada, "parlour" is the more commonly used spelling.
Do parlour and parlor mean the same thing?
Yes, they have the same meaning, referring to a sitting room or a business establishment.
What would a beauty parlour be called in the US?
It would be called a beauty parlor.
Can parlour be used for a type of ice cream shop in the UK?
Yes, though it's less common than in the US.
Do both parlour and parlor derive from the same origin?
Yes, both come from the French word "parloir," meaning "to speak."
In which industries are parlour and parlor used?
The hospitality, beauty, and funeral industries, among others.
Are parlour and parlor interchangeable?
Yes, they are interchangeable, with the difference being regional spelling.
Is parlor American or British English?
"Parlor" is American English.
Was parlour ever used in American English?
Historically, yes, but "parlor" became the standard American spelling.
Are there modern businesses called parlours?
Yes, some contemporary businesses, like tattoo shops, may use "parlour."
Why do some U.S. businesses use the spelling "parlour"?
To evoke an old-world charm or British association.
Does changing from parlour to parlor affect SEO?
It might, depending on the search preferences of the target audience.
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