As recently as 150 years ago (I'm thinking of Lewis Carrol's "Through the Looking Glass"), the term looking glass was used to denote what we today call a mirror.

I'm wondering, however, when the transition between these two words occurred, and I can't seem to find any historical sources for this. Could someone help me?


1 Answer 1


It didn't.

The word mirror (First Known Use: 13th century) predates the phrase looking glass by several hundred years(First Known Use of looking glass 1562). Just different words for the same thing.

If you do a google book search and set the publication date to pre-Through the Looking Glass(1871) you will find a publications dating to 1776 with Mirror in the title..

  • 2
    Note, however, that a "glass" could also denote a mirror, and that this usage also dates back to the 13th century (according to the OED — behind a paywall, sorry.) Jan 9, 2017 at 16:04

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