On Misnomers, Part One: Self Storage

So we all know what self storage is, right?  As far as I’m aware (being no expert), a company owns a big old warehouse-type building, portions it up into storage units, and hires these out to people to store a load of stuff that for whatever reason they can’t keep at home.  All fine and above board, sounds like a smart way to make money and probably comes in useful for people with loads of crap.  I don’t have a problem with the business model.

But I do have a problem with the name.  Why on earth has it come to be known as “self storage”?  As far as I can see, this is literally the opposite of self storage.  Self storage should be when you look after your own stuff, yourself.  Not putting it somewhere that belongs to someone else.  That isn’t self storage.  It’s “someone else storage”.

Let’s even go crazy and accept for a second that self storage is a reasonable name for this, because, I guess, even though you don’t own the space, you have a sort of responsibility to look after it yourself (tenuous at best, I know).  Even then, why call it self storage?  That implies that you’re going out of the way to differentiate it from some other sort of storage, “not-self storage”, as a viable alternative.  Now, unless I’m uninformed here, no such other option exists for the everyday person with too much crap.  The only thing that you’ve got to compare it to is… storing things at home like everyone else.  So what’s that called then?  Home storage?  Imagine English isn’t your first language and you need to decide where to keep some of your stuff in an English-speaking country.  Home storage or self storage?  Sounds like the same thing to me.

Rant over.  Although I have learned something today – if lacking in creativity, just think of something that makes you angry.  Easy words.

One thought on “On Misnomers, Part One: Self Storage”

  1. Not a problem where I come from–there, it’s just called ‘storage units’. Never heard of ‘self storage’ until I came to Britain. Same thing, obvs. Just less confusing, linguistically.

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