male / female toilets

Discussion in 'English Only' started by hly2004, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. hly2004 Banned


    I wonder if it is Ok to put the word "male" or "female" on toilet signs instead of "men" and "women". Is "male" or "female" used here common to see or not?

    Best wishes
  2. mjscott Senior Member

    Yes--you may use "male" and "female." Some theme restaurants will call people different nouns on bathroom doors. "Cowboys," "cowgirls," would be perhaps put on bathroom doors in a Western steak restaurant. Boys, girls; men, women; guys, gals; sailors, mermaids; steers, heifers; all are names I've seen on bathroom doors somewhere or another.
  3. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    It seems to me you could refer to male and female toilets , say, at a meeting of the town council about the provision of new toilets, but the words MALE and FEMALE on the appropriate doors would, to me at least, look rather absurd. Men and Women are used for this purpose.
    Whatever happened to Gents and Ladies? Presumably politically incorrect now, though I fail to see why.
  4. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    In contrast to mjs's post I'd say putting male and female on lavatory doors would be unusual in England. Unambiguous but unusual. We usually put Gentlemen or Ladies, or Men or Women, or one of the general signs which have become coded for the purpose:
  5. hly2004 Banned

    I've got it, thank you, Mjscott, Arrius,Thomas Tompion

  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Just back from an expedition to check our recently refurbished facilities.
    They used to be Male and Female, now they have little icons on the door instead.
    Gents and Ladies were once common.
    Gents, Ladies, Men, Women - what about children!

    Edit: Sorry about that, the little expedition took longer than I expected :rolleyes:
  7. hly2004 Banned

    Thank you, Panjandrum
  8. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    In an Irish Bar in England I had to wait for someone to come out of the toilets to discover which was which - they had chosen to write men and women in Gaelic.
  9. difficult cuss Senior Member

    English England
    I went into a pub in central/west Wales about 15 years ago, they had a "Mens" room at one end of the bar and "Powder" room at the other...goodness knows what a lady would be expected to do if she had need of a toilet.
  10. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Don't you think that the title - male and female toilets - is as nice a transferred epithet as we've come across in the last week to two?
  11. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Is it only me who thinks a male toilet and a female toilet ought to be physically different from one another in some way? Like we talk about the male and female ends of a connector, for instance?
  12. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    True love sets no conditions indeed, Nun-Translator.
  13. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    Not in the least, the expressions put me in mind of a Salvador Dali painting of shiny white porcelain objects with human appendages!
  14. difficult cuss Senior Member

    English England
    Not having spent any time in a "ladies" toilet you understand...but there are differences, a "gents" will have wall-mounted urinals.
  15. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Now that's interesting, difficult cuss. To me with my AE bias "toilet" refers to that fitting that can be used by one and all. I'd forgotten for the moment that it "the toilet" is also the room where the fittings are found. Thanks.
  16. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    There are three kinds of public restrooms in the U.S.


    You'll also find the "Unisex" bathroom facilities, which is like the Family bathroom, but I don't think it has a changing table for the baby. The Family one will have both figures on the door.

    The word, "toilette/toilet" doesn't sound genteel enough to my ears. It definitely comes across as a foreign-sounding term. It's just a step above "latrine" in my mind. You will hear many Americans calling it the "john", though.

    With the influx of so many different languages into our country here, I'm sure that's why we went to blacked-out pictures of either a guy in pants or a female in a dress. (Which hasn't stopped me from mistakenly going into a full men's room once. :eek: ) Many places will have both the figurines and the word.

    I'm curious. What does McDonald's, which has a place in every corner of the world, have on their doors in different countries? This restaurant is a well-known "pit stop" in any state in my country. Do they adapt to the local habits? For that matter, does any American chain in other countries keep its original theme, or is the restroom one area where they try to "adapt"?

  17. difficult cuss Senior Member

    English England
    Please note this is light-hearted OPINION ONLY.
    I find the naming of the room in which a toilet is situated as either a "restroom", or a "bathroom" very funny. To me, it smacks of trying too hard to be "gentile". I would never consider resting, nor bathing in the "water closet"...a far better my less than humble opinion.
    One further point, why are McDonald's refered to as restaurants? I was a chef de cuisine for many years and as such worked in many restaurants, none were in anyway similar to a fastfood outlet.
  18. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
  19. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    To me as clear as mud, unless the hollow shape and the pendant protuberance are meant to symbolize the private parts of the respective sexes. And what does tetris mean, please?
  20. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    And of course there is the case of the embarrassed Scotsman, who thought the sign on the door said Laddies...
  21. EmilyD Senior Member

    Rhode Island
    U.S., English
    With a friend who was a banker on a Sunday (the building was abandoned), I visited both the Men's and Women's Rooms.

    The big difference was the presence of a scale in the Ladies' Room.(Women in the US are always expected to be concerned about our weight).

    I moved the scale into the Gents' Room.;)

    Greetings to all,

    Edit: My friend was working as a banker at least 5 days a week, not a SundayBanker, she!
  22. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    Which (the Scottish story) reminds me of what my father, who knew no French, told me about how, when he went to France in WW I, he was mystified to see a line of narrow kiosks with the word HOMMES on their doors, which he assumed to be the French word for homes and wondered how even one single person could live in such cramped conditions.
    Plus, in an Italian restaurant when I, as a teenager, felt rather proud that I could distinguish between the very similar words Signori (Men) and Signore (Women) found, on entering the correct one, that they both led through separate corridors to the selfsame cubicle!
  23. domangelo Senior Member

    United States English
    Somehow male and female toilets sounds wrong to me, unless you write Males and Females on your sign, which would be awkward looking, but would at least make the words nouns rather than adjectives. It the words are adjectives, than you are saying that it is the toilets themselves that are male and female, the way that electric plugs and other such devices can be male and female.
  24. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață

    I agree that "Ladies" and "Gents" sound so much better. I don't know if Male and Female is wrong, but it sure sounds/looks awful.

    (AngelEyes, over here there are pictures of a lady - wearing a dress - and a gentleman - in a suit. We have the words in Romanian written beneath)
  25. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    You might see "Men" and "Women" on a door, and you might refer to the Men's bathroom or to the Women's bathroom.
  26. domangelo Senior Member

    United States English
    I think that the problem with the words male and female is that, coming from the realm of biology, they put too much emphasis on the physical difference between men and women: the plumbing, if you will. Thus they are not particularly elegant words. Ladies and Mens (do we put an apostrophe?) or Gents are hard to improve on.
  27. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață

    Please don't get me started... :rolleyes:

    It's true that lists this barbarism as an alternate form of men's. We are all doomed... :(

    So far, I've only seen (and I agree with):

    Ladies / Gents
    Women / Men

    I think it would be unfair to say Ladies and Men.

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