The word toilet?

Rest areas have restrooms   Saturday, October 18, 2003, 03:01 GMT
Rest areas have restrooms, toilet areas have toilets. Jim, what would you do if all the sudden people started calling it the jimroom? Excuse me, I need to go use the jimroom.
...   Saturday, October 18, 2003, 19:31 GMT
Calling the restroom the toilet is like calling the kitchen ''the oven'' or calling the den ''the fire'', those are things that are in those rooms not the names of those rooms. How crazy would it sound if someone told you, You need to clean the oven, and they meant you need to clean the kitchen. it would sound crazy. If you were in america, and someone asked you, have you seen my car keys and you said, yeah, I saw some keys in the toilet, you can go get them. They would tell you, Why are they in the dirty toilet water!! Did you throw them in there? The room is the restroom, the toilet is the device inside. If there were to be a toilet the size of a restroom no one could use it. It's OK if you don't use the word ''restroom'' but why think of it as such a ridiculous word? No one needs to know you're going in to urinate or defecate, if you said I need to use the restroom, you could mean you were going in there to do something else, you could mean you're going in there to throw up. You could mean you left something if yours in there and you need to go get it. And if the bathroom at home actually has a bathtub in it, it's OK to call it a bathroom. So if someone was at home and needed to take care of their business they could say I need to use the bathroom, and there's nothing wrong with it at all. And the word restroom distinguishes the room from the device. If there was no word to distinguish the two things, then someone could talk about the toilet and a lot of people would ask did you mean the room or the device? There's nothing wrong with restroom.
..   Saturday, October 18, 2003, 20:47 GMT
Excuse me, I think I need to use the restroom, I'll be back in a second.
Rugger   Sunday, October 19, 2003, 01:05 GMT
Here are some funny extracts about the "toilet" difference in the USA and Australia from this site

An obvious difference between Australian and American toilets is that American toilets are not toilets. They are "bathrooms" if you are in a private residence, and "washrooms" or "restrooms" if you are in a public building. The private/public, bathroom/restroom distinction is a loose one (no pun intended), and it doesn't appear to hinder communication if you get them mixed up.

The cross-cultural terminology is a fertile source of mismatched etiquettes. Asking, "Where's the bathroom / restroom?" sounds very, uhh... anal retentive to Australian ears. Why pretend you are going to take a bath / nap? Asking, "Where's the toilet?" sounds very uncouth to American ears. They visualise the appliance not the room. You are getting rather too specific. It's a case of when in Rome...

The American aversion to specifics is not an innate sensibility. It is the result of very specific feedback received by the child at a formative age. American children graduate from potty to bathroom without the porcelain throne getting a look-in. Caregivers will admonish the child not to refer to the "toilet" if the child happens to make the mistake of doing so. The infantile device doesn't get much of a mention either. I usually hear "potty" used as a verb rather than a noun, as in, "Do you want to go potty?" Ironically enough, "toilet" started out as a euphemism itself. It was derived from the French for shaving cloth, and once meant a place where one washes.

...reminds me of another encounter told to me by an Aussie. While her husband filled the car with petrol (gas), she searched unsuccessfully for the "loo". Finally she asked the girl behind the counter, "Do you have a toilet?" This question was met with a blank look, followed by an abrupt, "Yes". The two continued to stand staring at each other, until it clicked with the Aussie - wrong question! The girl must have thought this Aussie was taking an inventory of their plumbing fixtures. "Can I use your washroom?" produced the desired result.

I do wonder whether the American "bathroom" designation is less about coyness than about architecture. In most American residences the toilet is literally in the bathroom. Perhaps the toilet got swept up in a more general plumping reformation, and the name of the room just happens to emphasise the tub rather than the bowl. Although this doesn't explain why Americans don't call that well appointed room the "bathroom" when they are going for a wash, and the "toilet" when they are going for a pee.

American friends tell me they see the bath/shower-toilet combo as standard in both houses and apartments. No wonder American houses have so many bathrooms. On the whole, they haven't cottoned onto the joys of separating the two, and just repeat the combo in various strategic places around the house. Intriguingly, when a room does house only the toilet, Americans still distinguished it in reference to the main combo, and call it a "half bath", meaning "half a bathroom". Does this terminology indicate the derivative status of the toilet in American eyes, or are they taking their sense of propriety to absurd lengths? I am still undecided whether the "bathroom" terminology represents euphemism or a different approach to architectural layout.

In America, the separate toilet (or half bath) is considered an affectation of affluence, and usually includes the washbasin. The standard situation for plumbing appliances is the reverse in Australia; a separate room for the bath, and a separate room for the toilet. The toilet is usually on its own, so you have to go to the bathroom to wash your hands. The combo is then seen as an affectation of affluence, usually because it appears in addition to the other two as an en suite to the main bedroom. (Americans tend to use the term master bath rather than en suite to describe the small bathroom attached to a bedroom). In Australia, the combo also appears as a solution to limited space in apartments, in which case it is not a measure of affluence.

Referring to the toilet euphemistically as "the smallest room in the house" probably wont make a lot of sense to Americans until they do encounter the WC, segregated in a tiny space just big enough to allow a door to swing inwards. Americans are likely to interpret this situation as indicative of an Aussie hang-up, for the Aussie loo has a punitive air. Sitting in this cell-like room, they feel a sense of banishment, of being punished for needing to go. I think the small room is more straightforwardly the result of bringing the thunder-box indoors. Americans obviously feel answering the call of nature is deserving of more space. Seated upon the commode in some of the comparatively large "half baths" I have come across in the U.S., I have by contrast felt rather overwhelmed by my spacious surrounds. What else are they expecting me to do in here? Brush up on my flying-axel-half-pike-double-twist-sit-spins, perhaps.

Participants' comments about similtaneous bathroom usage:


There is something pretty revolting about settling into a nice hot tub and having someone urgently want to come in and sit on the thunderpot next to you. Kinda spoils the moment, don't ya think? Separate toilets rule OK!


As far as somebody needing to use the toilet when I take a bath or shower, I make it known that those in the house have 5 minutes to do whatever, then I'm in there till I'm done and the door is locked!

Canadian who has lived in Australia:

I once desperately asked where the washroom was and was surprised to find the laundry room.


It blew me away to see that 55% in Australia responded to having a room with a toilet only. I guess I just take for granted that when somebody says bathroom, restroom, or toilet that it at least has a sink.


I am an American living in Australia. I hate those tiny rooms with the commode in them. They are set up to make one feel like they need to be banished because of what they are doing "in there".


A similar oddity occurs when hikers "go to the bathroom behind a tree". A nice segue...

My niece back home was leading a novice group of bushwalkers on their first trip - a 3 day walk in the north part of Wilson's Prom National Park. A very recently-arrived American girl came up to her some way into the first day of the walk and asked my niece when they'd be getting to a bathroom. My niece was somewhat bewildered and replied that it would be 3 days before they came back to the main camping area which had showers and so on. The confusion on both sides was fortunately resolved without the poor girl needing to hang on for 3 days.
Juan   Sunday, October 19, 2003, 05:08 GMT
Too much information.
Nevermind   Sunday, October 19, 2003, 17:49 GMT
Restroom, bathroom, washroom, loo, lavatory, john, toilet, men's room, ladies' room, powder room, comfort room, ladies' toilet, gent's toilet etc.
restroom the size of a house   Sunday, October 19, 2003, 17:56 GMT
What if the made a restroom as big as a whole house?
Jim   Monday, October 20, 2003, 03:07 GMT
Why asks "why?" ... "Why would you curse ..." asks Why.

Hmmm, "curse", what does he mean? I turn to my dictionary ...

"curse (PERFORM MAGIC)" it says ... "No, that's not it" think I.

"curse (TROUBLE)" ... "not that either,"

"curse (SPEAK ANGRILY)" ... "ah, this could be it."

It says "curse ... verb [I or T]
"to say a word or an expression which is not polite and shows that you are very angry:"

But when I say "I'm taking the dogs out so they can take a shit." I'm not speaking angrily, I'm just stating a fact. So am I cursing?

If I said "May the shit that I'm taking the dogs out to do follow you around till the end of your days and may you sicken of its stench and may this stench linger on your children and your children's children and so on till the thirteenth generation." then I'd be cursing.

Okay, "shit" is considered vulgar by some people in certain circumstances. So why would I use a vulgarity whenever I "take the dogs out to use the bathroom?" Oh, man, I still have to smirk. I wouldn't be taking them out to use any bathroom. They'd be shitting in the yard not in the bathroom.

If I felt the need to avoid the vulgarity, I'd find some way. Something simple but true and not stupidly euphamistic like "I'm taking the dogs out." Nobody needs to know what for and I doubt that anybody wants to.

But "Why not say I'm taking the dogs out to go number two?" well, that's fine ... if you want to sound like a three-year-old.

"Why would cursing be a better choice than not cursing?" you ask. The word "shit" is vulgar but factual, "bathroom" is not vulgar but nor is it factual. Vulgarity is far better than fallacy. Give me vulgarity drop the absurd euphamisms.

What would I do if "all the sudden people started calling it the jimroom? 'Excuse me, I need to go use the jimroom.'" I'd laugh and call them rather stupid. Besides everyone would think they meant the gymnasium.

...'s logic just doesn't add up "Calling the restroom the toilet is like calling the kitchen 'the oven' or calling the den 'the fire'," ... no it's not. Sure, "those are things that are in those rooms not the names of those rooms." except in the case of the toilet (in non-North American English).

"What if the made a restroom as big as a whole house?" Mmmm, what if, ay? It'd be big ... ay.
A.S.C.M.   Monday, October 20, 2003, 03:11 GMT
I'd say "take my dog out to defaecate" or "take my dog out to excrete".

I once wrote in a short story: "he went to the toilet to release something."
A.S.C.M.   Monday, October 20, 2003, 03:14 GMT
This thread must end here. It's going nowhere.
Jim   Monday, October 20, 2003, 03:15 GMT
Yes, "take my dog out to defaecate" or "take my dog out to excrete" both work. Still, the best option is not to let dogs inside in the first place.
...   Monday, October 20, 2003, 03:35 GMT
The dogs want to and like to be inside sometimes, I guess the option is to get a doggie door.
...   Monday, October 20, 2003, 03:47 GMT
I guess the best choice would be to say, I'm going to take the dogs out to defecate or excrete, but I say ''out to use the bathroom. Defaecate, I thought it was defecate.
Jim   Monday, October 20, 2003, 06:09 GMT
I don't want to nor do I like to have dogs inside my place ever. If dogs want or like to be there, that's their problem. I guess my option is not to have dogs.

"Defectate"? You would have thought it was "defecate", you're American.
A.S.C.M.   Monday, October 20, 2003, 06:23 GMT
And so continues the evolution of discussions. I believe some odd mutations have sprung up randomly from the gene pool.