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The joy of bidets
Old wooden bidet ~ In French, bidet originally meant 'a small horse', 'a nag'. English travellers on the continent report riding bidets from the 17th - 19th centuries ('I trotted behind on a little bidet', 1863). It isn't difficult to see how the word was extended to the bathroom utensil: as Francis Grose put it in 1785: 'A kind of tub, contrived for ladies to wash themselves, for which purpose they bestride it like a little French pony."