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Furniture Terms--Bureau
PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:04 am Reply with quote
Joined: 09 Sep 2006
Posts: 32

I was relating a humorous story involving my impatient two year old and a piece of furniture she was waiting on me to build for her, when a co-worker corrected me. I was calling it a "bureau," which she said was an out of date term, with "chest of drawers" or "dresser" being the current equivalent.

Living in Central Florida now, but growing up in the Northeast, I always heard "bureau." When I told my wife, also a fellow transplant from the Northeast, she thought it might be a case of regional speech.

So the question I pose to you (along with the obvious, what do you call the piece of furniture you place in a room to hold clothing you do not hang up in your closet?), is the "bureau" versus "chest of drawers"/"dresser" issue one of regional speech, or did I use an anachronistic term?
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 9:48 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC

Having grown up in western North Carolina, I would say the most common term I heard was "chest of drawers," followed closely by "dresser." However, "bureau" wouldn't have sounded completely exotic and foreign to us.

My brother might chime in on this with a differing memory.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:33 am Reply with quote
Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

To me, a bureau is a chest of drawers which has a desk at the top of it (the French word bureau means 'desk'). If it has a desk, it's a bureau, if not, it's not. To me it seems less of an outdated term, and more of a term for a specific type of chest of drawers. I think the drawers would be less likely used to hold clothing and more likely used to hold papers and such (though I have myself used a bureau to hold clothing when I was renting a small room in which it was the only available storage space).

I don't know if this is regional. If it is, I couldn't say what region. We have a bureau (in this sense) at my family's home, which is in Scotland, though it might have been called that because my grandmother was from British Columbia.

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Furniture Terms--Bureau
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