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Is it Laundromat or Laundry Mat?

The proper spelling in “Laundromat.” However, there are a lot of different, regional terms for local laundromats. Here are some regional terms, where they came from, and what they mean.

Laundromat or Laundry Mat?

Laundromats are named by combining two words: “laundry” and “automat.” The term “laundromat” was coined in the 1940s, and it is a portmanteau, which is a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two other words. “Laundry” refers to the washing of clothes, and “automat” refers to an automatic or self-service operation, which was a popular concept at the time for various services and businesses.

Is It Laundromat or Laundry Mat

The Laundromat Portmanteau

A portmanteau is a linguistic blend of words, where parts of multiple words or their sounds are combined into a new word. The term was first used in this linguistic sense by Lewis Carroll in “Through the Looking-Glass,” where Humpty Dumpty explains the concept of blending words to Alice. For example, “brunch” (breakfast + lunch) and “smog” (smoke + fog) are other examples of portmanteaux.

Origin of the Word “Laundromat”

The exact first use of the term “laundromat” is not well-documented, but it is known that the concept of self-service laundry facilities became popular in the 1940s in the United States. The first laundromat is often credited to the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which introduced the concept and promoted it widely.

Why is “Laundry Mat” Wrong

“Laundry mat” is incorrect because it misunderstands the origin of the word. While “laundry” is correctly used, “mat” does not derive from “automat.” The term “laundromat” specifically implies a self-service laundry facility, and breaking it into “laundry mat” loses this connotation and the blend of “automatic” service, which was the novel concept when laundromats were first introduced.

Other Words for Laundromats

There are several other terms used for laundromats, some of which are regional:

  • Washateria: Commonly used in parts of the southern United States, especially Texas.
  • Lavanderia: A term used in Spanish-speaking regions and communities.
  • Wash House: An older term that is still used in some areas, particularly in the UK.
  • Laundry Center: A modern term that emphasizes a comprehensive facility offering various laundry services.
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