Where does the term “Lazy Susan” come from and What does Lazy Susan mean?

One is tempted to parody Shakespeare: “Who was Susan? what was she?”

All that we have learned is that this “Susan” appeared on the American scene perhaps seventy-five years ago and probably in New England.

She, or rather it, was the successor of the dining-room article which, in both England and America, had been called a “dumb waiter.”

This device, known since the mid-eighteenth century, usually stood alongside the host, its three shelves, laden with wine, rotating about a common spindle.

Presumably, the presumption being entirely mine, in some American family this silent servitor replaced a living, energetic, and anything-but-dumb waitress.

In ironic honor of her activity, let us say, they called it lazy Susan.

We can readily assume that the name would remain when, as a matter of further convenience, the shelves were reduced to one and the shortened device was lifted to the center of the dining table.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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