A paying guest


What's the meaning of the phrase 'A paying guest'?

A lodger.

What's the origin of the phrase 'A paying guest'?

‘Paying guest’ is an archetype of euphemistic language. It was invented specifically to avoid the embarrassment of acknowledging that one took lodgers into one’s house in order to make ends meet. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that it originated at a time and place that is known for social awkwardness, Victorian England. There are references in print to paying guest dating from the early 1800s but they relate to payment for hotel rooms etc. The first citation that I can find that refers to a payment for lodgings in a private house is from the UK newspaper The Wells Journal, August 1894:

He was a tutor ostensibly, but he was also a paying guest.

Trend of a paying guest in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.