I’m Turkish and there is a name for the thing you put your coat on or scarf when you enter a house or office, dilsiz uşak. The thing is translated word for word as ‘dumb butler’. I looked it up in Turkish and a dictionary provided me with this translation. I thought it came from English to Turkish. But a google search on ‘dumb butler’ results in nearly nothing. Is that a real phrase or not? Thanks in advance!

Turkish version: dilsiz uşak sample image picture of a dilsiz uşak from an online Turkish shopping store

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    Turkish is not alone in naming this thing after a person: Swedish calls it a drum major, while Danish and Norwegian are even closer to the Turkish, calling it a dumb waiter (which, incidentally, is an entirely different thing in English). Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 16:50
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    I'll note that "dumb waiter" is a well-defined term for a sort of small elevator used to convey, say, trays of food from one floor to another in a residence. But I've never heard "dumb butler".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 20:06
  • I only know this term as one came with my house, hidden in the attic; it is unusual enough a thing to have piqued my curiosity, and I am pedantic enough both to have wanted to know what it was called and to have made the effort to find out. Several years later, this is the only time I have since come across the term dumb butler... other than in discussion of my unusual coat rack.
    – tmgr
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 0:16
  • To the CVer; Boketto did post their research, they translated from Turkish to English but got stuck because Googling the translation was fruitless. Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 7:28
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    The thing you describe seems to be for a coat rack at the entry to a house (for outdoor coats), but the phrase you want to translate, 'dilsiz uşak', gives an image that looks more like something to be used in a bedroom. So is this thing for the bedroom (for when one is dressing and undressing) or is it for hanging up a coat for the outside?
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 13:49

3 Answers 3


A closer connection to "dumb butler" might be a secondary definition for valet:


Definition of valet (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an employee (as of a hotel or a public facility) who performs personal services for customers

b : a man's male servant who performs personal services (such as taking care of clothing)

2 : a device (such as a rack or tray) for holding clothing or personal effects

Though they are more generally referred to as "valet stands" when you browse for them online, they come in many varieties - some with chairs, some with boxes for accessories - but all have the space to accommodate a coat (and possibly the entirety of a posh gentleman's outfit for the next day).

Men's valet stand

These are more likely to be found in a home as opposed to an office, particularly because they only meet the needs of one person and they are really more of a convenience, as if you had a very stationary butler or personal valet waiting on you hand and foot.

  • If you GIS “dumb butler” in quotes, valets do indeed appear to be the most common theme among the results. Seemingly valets are called dumb butlers by someone, somewhere. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 19:57

First, without any reference to objects or culture, the term 'dumb butler' is not an expression used in English (though it of course makes metaphorical sense).

The object and use you are describing sounds like a tall wooden pole, standing near the entry door, with hooks in a circular arrangement to hang coats or hats on it. It appears in the center of this image:

coat rack (from Blacksmith coat rack)

For possible expressions:

  • 'coat rack' is the most common way to say it in English (AmE at least). It's strange but 'rack' makes me think of a linear repeating set of hooks (like in the upper right of the image), rather than a vertical post with a circular ring of hooks, but words aren't always used literally.

  • 'coat tree' is very apt and I've heard it used informally and also by manufacturers, but is not that common.

Unfortunately, the image you provided looks nothing like the picture I gave of a coat rack. It could very well be a cultural difference, that two different kinds of construction of furniture are used for the same purpose (taking off hats, coats, and scarves coming in from the outdoors).

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    Also hat stand. I’d think of that as being at least as common as coat rack for this thing, but perhaps it’s more BrE? Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 16:45
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    I would call it a hat tree. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 17:27
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    Thanks for the detailed response. In a South African shopping website, I found they use 'dumb butler' instead of coat racks. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 17:29
  • Surely the 'hat stand' is the tree-like item with multiple hooks sprouting from the centre. The 'coat rack' is the long piece of wood/metal with a series of pegs/hooks lined up horizontally. But 'dumb butler' does have a ring to it ;-)
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 1:30
  • @Dan 'hat stand' is another name. It's just that, if you follow the link to google images for 'coat rack', you'll see pictures of what the OP describes (that's my best justification beyond 'here is what I know' and you trusting me.
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 1:38

There is a similar expression using the word 'dumb'. but it is not 'dumb butler'. The expression is the 'dumb waiter'. A 'dumb waiter refers to the sort of manual or mechanical lift in restaurants, hotels and perhaps the homes of the rich to move completed dishes from the kitchen up (or down) to the dining area or servery. The online Oxford dictionary defines it is "A small lift for carrying things, especially food and crockery, between the floors of a building" It suggests a second definition as the turntable on some circular tables, used for moving different dishes to guests as they need them." I have not come across this use of the expression in this latter sense. This sharing device, most familiar in chinese restaurants is called (in British English, at least) a 'lazy Susan'.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary offer this definition of 'dumbwaiter' (note the spelling as one word): "a small elevator used for conveying food and dishes from one story of a building to another". But it also offer a prior definition: "a portable serving table or stand." That sounds a little closer to your 'dumb butler', but is still not a coat rack. But it might be close enough to stretch across a change of language and continent.

raisinghellyer must surely be right, however, to draw upon the synomymous word ‘valet’, and suggest that the Turkish expression (‘aptal valet’) corresponds with the dumb valet. The turkish is referring to a different substitute for a butler (or valet): not only did the butler supervise the serving of dinner in great houses: he also received and put away the coats and other impedimenta) for the householders and their guests as they arrived, and took them out and handed them back as they left. So 'dumb valet' it is. As for the different word 'valet'. In the online English/Turkish dictionary I consulted I found for 'valet' the words 'kahya' (which seems to range from general factotum all the way up to 'chamberlain') , 'kilerci' (linked to 'storekeeper', 'butler', 'cellarer', 'pantryman', 'stockman') and bas usak (defined as plain 'butler', and the word that is given first as the word for 'butler'). Frustratingly, the Turkish for 'dumb valet' turns out to be 'aptal valet', where 'aptal' means 'stupid'. This is a perfect instance of the misuse of dictionaries. 'Dumb' has as its main meaning 'speechless' in the sense of 'unable to speak'. It can stretch to mean lacking in human intelligence, as in the expression 'dumb animals'. But the dumb valet is dumb not in the sense that it is stupid but that , unlike Jeeves, it does not say "good evening sir, thank you" as you hand it your garment on arrival or "your stole, madam" as you leave, because it is without the power of speech.

  • 1
    Doesn't answer the question
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 15:22
  • @AndyT I am agreeing with raisinghellyer’s answer, and said so. But I shall look again and edit, if necessary.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 15:29
  • 1
    To agree with someone else's answer, an upvote is all that's required. An answer should stand on its own.
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 15:31

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