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
  • @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
  • When looking up words on Google, it's a good idea to change the language preferences support.google.com/websearch/topic/… and/or go to Google.com or uk. I myself alternate between .uk to .it (Italy). To search results in English: support.google.com/websearch/answer/… – Mari-Lou A Dec 22 '13 at 7:56

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or denoting articles used in the process of washing and dressing oneself) with a strong, characteristic scent, originally made in Cologne, Germany.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
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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. – None Dec 22 '13 at 12:06
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    The OED gives nine different meanings to the word "toilet", all derivating from original word borrowed (16th century) from French toilette which is "a piece of stuff used as a wrapper for clothes" - and the French word meant exactly the same at the time (from latin tela - (cob)web). Present day uses of the English "toilet" and French "toilette" are exactly the same including the use of the room we call "toilettes" (we'd use it in the plural in that sense) when we want to use the special facilities there. – None Dec 22 '13 at 12:27
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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

It should be noted that, in the US, "eau" is more than occasionally used in a pseudo-hoity-toity humorous sense, with the assumed meaning being "essence" or "odor". Someone might, eg, say "eau de skunk" or "eau de outhouse". (The use of "de" to mean "of" is not required in this sense but is usual.)

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