I came across this term at an English train station. My friend and I were looking for a place to store our luggage and it didn't occur to us that 'left luggage' was the place we needed to go as it seems like a place for lost property. Why does it have this confusing (for a non-native English speaker) name? What's the origin?

  • @LorelC The luggage in a left luggage office wasn't left until it was handed over to a member of staff for safe keeping. Similarly once it's been retrieved it is no longer left as it has been picked up. While you are carrying it around it cannot be 'left luggage'. similarly if you have left it behind on a train or in a station cafe it is not 'left luggage' as it is not in the left luggage office.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 1 '19 at 19:53

Well there's a logic to it: if you want to leave your luggage somewhere for a while, then the luggage will be left, i.e. it will be "left luggage".

Yes, it is ambiguous. It's not just non-native speakers who have the problem; as a native speaker I assumed "Left luggage" meant "Lost property" until I was about 20 years old.


"Left luggage" is a place where you can leave your luggage. Where major stations (in the UK) have a left luggage facility it's usually run by Excess Baggage Company and they contract with Network Rail to also offer a lost property service. The Excess Baggage stores have storage and security screening facilities.


Other stations may have a "lost property" facility but it won't be open to the public and in some cases property will be taken elsewhere to be stored.

On the other hand, Transport for London have a "lost property" office, but they won't let you leave your luggage. It is therefore not a "left luggage" office.


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