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I read it from a jewelry website relating to a bottle of perfume or cologne maybe? Some sort of spray? I can't seem to find a definition on google. I'm assuming French roots.

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Try typing "eau" into Google and following a link to a dictionary. For example: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eau –  Hugo Dec 22 '13 at 6:53
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eau = water. However, the object in question could more likely be eau de cologne -- you can look up the phrase. –  Kris Dec 22 '13 at 6:53
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@Hugo Have you followed your own link? It tells me I need to activate my free trial. I see no definition of "eau". By the way, thanks for being so remarkably polite in your comment. –  Soylent Green Dec 22 '13 at 6:57
    
@SoylentGreen Hugo has access everywhere, lesser mortals have to google. –  Kris Dec 22 '13 at 6:58
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@SoylentGreen: Strange, I didn't check the actual M-W page because the Google summary showed the definition. Try this instead: onelook.com/?w=eau&ls=a&loc=2osdf –  Hugo Dec 22 '13 at 7:03

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

eau means water in French. Eau de cologne is a fragrant liquid (toilet water, where toilet is French for the process of washing oneself, dressing, and attending to one's appearance, or denoting articles used in the process of washing and dressing oneself) with a strong, characteristic scent, originally made in Cologne, Germany.

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Nobody has commented definitively on whether 'eau' is an accepted loanword in itself. Certainly open compounds such as eau de vie "brandy" (1748), lit. "water of life" and eau de toilette (1907) Dictionary.com have been accepted into the lexicon, but these are multi-word lexemes. For what it's worth, Sowpods lists eau (but then it seems to list most permutations of letters). –  Edwin Ashworth Dec 22 '13 at 9:58
    
Susan, I don't understand what you mean by "toilet water, where toilet is French...". After reading that I thought there was a meaning to the word "toilet" I ignored and so I checked and I do know all the various meanings, so I'm puzzled and I hate not understanding, so if you can explain, I'd appreciate! –  Laure Dec 22 '13 at 10:03
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@Susan: toilet is an English word; the French word is toilette. –  Peter Shor Dec 22 '13 at 11:41
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Still not clear why you used the word French here, surely no one would understand the word toilet here as the room. The word toilet as "accessory to do the act of getting dressed" has nothing French about it. In English - as in French - the use of "toilet" as meaning "articles required or used in dressing" - in which we can include Cologne water is much older as its use to designate the room. (1662 according to the OED for English - 19th century for French). The use of the word as a euphemism to designate the "facility" only dates from the 19th century in English, 19th in French. –  Laure Dec 22 '13 at 12:06
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Until around 1900 or so, toilette was a fancy term for washing your face and adjusting your makeup. Fashionable women would "make their toilette". Then it became (like crapper, water closet, W.C. and commode before it) a euphemism for the place and the apparatus where one shits privately. This became the English word toilet. –  John Lawler Dec 22 '13 at 15:06

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