www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/bal-look-out-below-20130202,0,3312491.story

baltimoresun.com

Look out below

By John E. McIntyre

The Baltimore Sun

1:56 PM EST, February 2, 2013

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Signing on to Facebook and Twitter at the paragraph factory this afternoon, I sent out this warning: "At the desk. Gardy loo."

Those of you who are not former eighteenth-century men, or women, may require a little explanation. 

Gardy loo, sometimes gardyloo, is thought to be an English corruption of the French garde a l'eau, "look out for the water." In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Edinburgh, it was the height of politesse to call out "Gardy loo" before emptying a chamber pot into the street from an upstairs window.

Today at the paragraph factory, the warning in purely metaphoric.