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What's a reception room/parlor/parlour/ drawing room?

I'm thinking, is it just another word for the living room of my house?

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A parlor is like a living room, except reserved for guests. A drawing room is the parlour of a posh house. –  Thursagen Jun 26 '11 at 21:15
    
Drawing rooms and parlours are hopelessly archaic terms. You wouldn't normally use them today unless you wanted to evoke something of the past which they are associated with. –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 1:17
    
@FumbleFingers so are you saying we should stick to reception room? –  Pacerier Jun 28 '11 at 14:15
    
@Pacerier: Unless you're a UK-based seller of property you probably don't need any of these words. In houses with two reception rooms, the one used most is normally called the living room, or sitting room. The other one is often called the day room, or front/back room as appropriate. –  FumbleFingers Jun 28 '11 at 17:50
    
@Ham and Bacon: I'm intrigued that you managed to spell parlour as US and UK in two consecutive sentences. Is that because Aussies fall somewhere between UK/US and can't decide which to use, or just a typo? :) –  FumbleFingers Jun 28 '11 at 17:55
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Reception room is the room of a hotel (but it could be other buildings too) used for parties and meetings.
Parlor is a dated word to mean a sitting room in a private house. Generally it means a room in a public building used to receive guests; it could also be a room in a convent.
Drawing room is a room in a large private house where guests are received.
Living room is a room in a house for everyday's (informal) usage.

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In the UK, a Reception room is a stock phrase used by estate agents (realtors) and the like in property descriptions.

Basically it means any reasonable-sized room downstairs available to receive a visitor in. Specifically excluding kitchens and dining rooms, plus other rooms plainly unsuitable, such as a cloakroom (downstairs toilet).

Most houses only have one, so it's normally only mentioned if the property is up-market enough to have two or more. In many such homes that I've been familiar with, one of the two (usually the one at the front) is kept far more tidy, and is rarely used as 'living space' by the occupants except when they actually do have visitors.

Hotels sometimes refer to reception rooms, but confusion with the main reception area/concourse means they tend to call them meeting/conference/dining/banqueting rooms/halls.

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