STOOP: a small porch


We’ve talked before about archaic terms which date back to “the old days.”   Such as davenport (couch); galoshes (boots); and overhauls (jeans.)  But that’s not an exhaustive list.  There are many more.

Today’s word, stoop, is one of them.  It is a word that means a small porch, or entry way.    It is important that I include the word “small” before porch, because, as you know there are some porches which are extensive.   On the 4th of July we love to go to Martha’s Vineyard and sit on the porch of the Harbor View Hotel, the grandest of the hotels in that amazing city.   It is a massive porch which extends across the front, around the side, and along a back portion of the front of the elegant hotel. It provides the most amazing view of the Edgartown Harbor, the lighthouse, and the 4th of July parade. It is, by no means a stoop.

To the contrary, a stoop is more likely found on the front of a house… sometimes a humble house… and is no more than a set of steps, a small deck, and a door into the building. The word stoop is from the Dutch (Germanic) language where the word stoep means, obviously,  step.  It is an adequate term for the small piece of a house through which one enters.

When I was a kid we had a porch that stretched all across the front of our house, and down the left side of the house to the front door.   On the porch was our amazing hanging swing on which my grandmother loved to sit in the evening and talk with the neighbors who walked by.   We sat out there and shelled peas, snipped beans, and husked corn on the cob.  Our whole family could fit very comfortably on the porch.   In an attempt to improve the house, my father removed the porch, which regularly required maintenance.  He replaced it with a stoop, a small cement deck with three steps leading up to it.  There was room for a single chair and the door to the front of the house.   Not only was a piece of the building lost, but a part of the life of the family went with it.  The stoop could not replace the porch.  I have to admit, though, that the stoop greatly enhanced the drive-by view.   My brother planted beautiful plants in front of the house and its image was improved.  It helped sell the house when it became necessary.

Stoops are functional and practical.  But porches are relational and emotional.


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