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Expression: below stairs



 
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Expression: below stairs #1 (permalink) Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:37 am   Expression: below stairs
 

English Idioms and Expressions, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #18 "Expressions with low", question 5

In the 19th century in big houses the people who lived below stairs were the servants.

(a) under the floor
(b) at the bottom
(c) in the basement
(d) under the stairs

English Idioms and Expressions, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #18 "Expressions with low", answer 5

In the 19th century in big houses the people who lived in the basement were the servants.

Correct answer: (c) in the basement

Your answer was: incorrect
In the 19th century in big houses the people who lived at the bottom were the servants.
_________________________

Hi,

Is below stairs necessarily in the basement? Could it not be on the ground floor?

haihao
Haihao
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Joined: 26 Oct 2006
Posts: 2471
Location: Japan

Expression: below stairs #2 (permalink) Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:18 am   Expression: below stairs
 

The idiom 'below stairs' (as opposed to 'above stairs') was used to refer specifically to the kitchen(s) and servants' quarters in the basement of a house.

Haihao wrote:
Could it not be on the ground floor?

Some houses can have a (storage) cupboard below/beneath the stairs on the ground floor.
Conchita
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Expression: below stairs #3 (permalink) Thu Nov 30, 2006 0:54 am   Expression: below stairs
 

Conchita... There was a fairly long running English television series called "Upstairs, Downstairs" which focused on the domestic situation of a family with servants in the early decades of the 20th century. The servants lived downstairs in the basement and 'below stairs' was a common way of referring to their physical location and also their social station. The servants might have referred to the family's place as being 'upstairs', but I don't think I've ever heard 'above stairs' used in this context.
Pond969
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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Expression: below stairs #4 (permalink) Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:32 am   Expression: below stairs
 

Hi,

Actually I watched a movie called 'Gosford Park' (2001, directed by Robert Altman) on which a castle in England was its stage. The drama was set in 1932 when servants were all working and living on the ground floor while the host and guests having fun on the first (second) floor.

Quote:
Plot Outline: Multiple storylined drama set in 1932, showing the lives of upstairs guest and downstairs servants at a party in a country house in England.

haihao
Haihao
I'm a Communicator ;-)


Joined: 26 Oct 2006
Posts: 2471
Location: Japan

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