Can I call a window sill window stool?

This article, which is just one among the very many I found on the internet, says that what is commonly referred to as the "sill" is actually the stool, the sill being outside of the home and the stool inside.

Personally, when I found myself in this kind of situation, I generally tend to prefer the "proper" option, that is "stool" in this case.

But upon running a search on ngram I found out that the word "stool" is not simply less used; it's virtually non-existent. So I was wondering whether this time I might be better off choosing "sill", for the sake of clarity.

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    I'd never seen this usage of stool before. The full OED lists it as definition #9 Architecture. The sill of a window. Obsolete exc. U.S., so you should probably avoid it. Here's the "comparative usage" chart, where window stool "flatlines" against window sill. (And it only just edges out the misspelling window cill! :) Jun 14 '21 at 15:34
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    (Oops! - that's less common spelling, not misspelling) Jun 14 '21 at 15:41
  • If you are sure that it's the correct word you can of course use it. But you probably should explain it, because most people won't understand it. Jun 14 '21 at 15:44
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    I was in the UK construction industry at one time, and never heard "window stool" but I have found a diagram showing one. It is for a sash window, and that window type is no longer used except where a match to old work is required for preservation. The diagram might be from US because one component is labelled 'parting stop' whereas in UK I know it as 'parting bead'. Jun 14 '21 at 16:09

The article itself answers the question:

Despite common belief, the window sill is found on the outside of the home. Inside the home, the part of the window often called the "sill" is actually the stool. However, the stool is often described as the sill, even by window experts.

The article makes it clear that what the majority of people (even 'experts') call it a 'sill', even though it is technically called the 'stool'. So, if you call it the stool, you might be technically correct, but the majority of people won't understand you.

Lots of things have a technical name and a common name, and both are correct. Sometimes the technical name for something becomes commonly known - for example, at the start of the 2020 pandemic, most people referred to the 'coronavirus', until the more specific term 'Covid19' became widely used. On the other hand, relatively few people without medical training use the term 'myocardial infarction' - most people use the common term 'heart attack'. I would suggest that 'sill', rightly or wrongly, has become the common term for the inside stool of a window and is quite correct to use.

  • Well said, as a general principle.
    – Lambie
    Jun 14 '21 at 18:28
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    Yes, and even when there's a technical word for something, the common term is also correct.
    – gotube
    Jun 14 '21 at 21:09
  • @gotube that's a much simpler way of putting it, thank you. I've incorporated that into my answer, i wasn't completely happy with my final paragraph anyway.
    – Astralbee
    Jun 15 '21 at 8:24
  • Cool, now I want to upvote your answer again
    – gotube
    Jun 15 '21 at 20:44

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