restroom, washroom and bathroom

Discussion in 'English Only' started by temujin, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. temujin

    temujin Senior Member

    Hamburg - Germany
    Norway / norwegian
    hi


    Does anybody know the origin of the word "restroom" and why this word is used in the US instead of the british-english equivalents.


    t.
     
  2. pinkpanter

    pinkpanter Senior Member

    It's an euphemism (the room where you rest)

    The British equivalent is cloakroom.
     
  3. EVAVIGIL

    EVAVIGIL Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain / Spanish
    Hello, Temujin!

    I have found this definition:

    restroom [Show phonetics]
    noun [C] MAINLY US
    a room with toilets that is in a public place, for example in a restaurant

    (from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

    And this explanation:

    The word toilet itself may be considered an impolite word in the United States, whilst elsewhere the word is used without any embarrassment. When referring to the room or the actual piece of equipment, the word toilet is often substituted with other euphemisms (and dysphemisms) such as:

    bathroom
    bog
    can
    cloakroom
    commode
    convenience
    crapper
    dump tank
    dunny
    facility or facilities
    gentlemen's
    gents

    heads
    khazi
    john
    ladies’
    ladies’/ men’s room
    ladies’/ men’s lounge
    lavatory
    little boys'/girls' room
    long drop
    loo
    men’s
    necessary
    place of easement
    poop-house
    powder room
    privy
    reading room
    restroom
    shit-house
    shitter
    smallest room
    stables
    throne
    washroom
    water chamber
    and water closet (or WC)

    This is from www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki

    I hope it helps!

    EVA.
     
  4. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Dump tank!!!!!:D Hadn't heard that before.
     
  5. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    I never saw "dysphemisms" before!

    Main Entry: dys·phe·mism
    Pronunciation: 'dis-f&-"mi-z&m
    Function: noun
    Etymology: dys- + -phemism (as in euphemism)
    : the substitution of a disagreeable, offensive, or disparaging expression for an agreeable or inoffensive one; also : an expression so substituted

    I just learned a new word. But just to be careful, we'd better clarify for those learning English that your wordlist contains rude words as well as polite ones.

    I just can't understand how "toilet" became impolite in the US when it is perfectly find in the UK, or so I've been told. :)

    Gaer
     
  6. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    No, I didn't know that word before either, thanks Evavigil. Yes we do use "toilet" all the time in the UK. Indeed there's quite an anti-political correctness back-lash against using words like "bathroom". I must say I hate it when people say words like that.

    I know it's not big or clever but I can't help informing people that there is no bath in there when they say that.

    You do see "ladies" a lot however. Which is positively against the trade descriptions act judging from the women queuing outside the toilets at the night clubs round where I live...
     
  7. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    OK. What you just told me is EXACTLY what I have been told. I totally agree with you. "Bathroom" is a ridiclous word. But I think we all use it here in the US, because it's such a habit…

    Gaer
     
  8. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    Not so, I'm afraid. A cloakroom is where you leave your coats while you go off and enjoy the club, dance, restaurant, whatever.
     
  9. mimmo2815 New Member

    MIAMI
    ITALY
    ...cloak comes from cloaca = sewer. I do not suggest to store your coat there...
     
  10. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    It also refers to a part of the body with reference to certain animals, such as the tortoise. I wouldn't store my coat there, either. :)
     
  11. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    I must support Garry in this - I don't know if the word cloakroom really has it's etymology in "cloaca" but certainly today we use it to me somewhere where you store your coat.

    "cloak" is an old-fashioned word for "coat" so I would suggest that either the word has always been "cloak-room" eg a room to put your cloak, or if your etymology is correct and the origin of the word is "cloaca" that it became associated with the word "cloak" meaning coat by analogy and therefore changed its meaning to mean "cloak - room" rather than "sewer - room"!

    In any case you DO store your coat in a cloakroom today.
     
  12. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Actually, thinking about it further I have seen "cloakroom" used for a room with a toilet in it in a house (as opposed to the one with a bath in it). I always assumed this was just because people often hang their coats in such a room too!
     
  13. mimmo2815 New Member

    MIAMI
    ITALY
    Many Times We Find The Same Complex Words We Can Use To Describe
    Different Things.
    In Our Case, Talking About The Definition Of Restroom And Finding Cloackroom As Part Of A Long List Of Different Ways To
    Say "restroom" And Being A Cloaca (from Latin) Another Word To Describe A Sewer, 1+1=2
    Fortunately I Am In Miami And I Do Not Have A Coat To Store
    In The "cloackroom"..
     
  14. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    I'm afraid my research on the etymology of this word only suggests it is connected with "cloak" and not "cloaca" and so is not a toilet. Certainly "cloakroom" normally means somewhere to store your coat in modern English.

    cloak
    1293, from O.N.Fr. cloque, from M.L. clocca "travelers' cape," lit. "a bell," so called from the garment's bell-like appearance (see bell). The verb is from 1509. Cloak and dagger (1806) translates Fr. de cape et d'épée. Cloakroom is from 1852.
     
  15. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    Oh, so now I'm wondering where tortoises keep their cloaks... :)
     
  16. pinkpanter

    pinkpanter Senior Member

    Oh! They taught me that!!
     
  17. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    They don't wear them, they wear shell-suits!;)
     
  18. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hi guys;

    Here we call them restrooms because in some places they had a "resting" area off form the "toilet" area...these had sofas and chairs...tables and lamps...

    although...I see nothing "nice" about hanging out in the bathroom....

    I say bathroom...because it is where my bathtub is as well...
    Or people say nothing at all..just.. "I got to go!"

    te gato;)
     
  19. temujin

    temujin Senior Member

    Hamburg - Germany
    Norway / norwegian
    ...so in BE "toilet" can be used in all situations without sounding offensive nor too "polite"?

    "Restroom" is probably the most annoying word I know in English. HeHe. As if anybody really believe that you are going to take a rest...

    Thanks for all the answers.

    t.
     
  20. mirandolina

    mirandolina Senior Member

    Padua, Italy
    Scotland - English
    Sorry to disappoint you, cloak does not come from cloaca.
    The word cloak (in Italian mantello, tabarro) is derived from Middle Latin "clocca" meaning bell, because it's a bell-shaped garment.

    So the cloakroom is in no way connected to the sewer.... :)



     
  21. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    I had to read that twice before I saw the word 'about'. Just for a second there, I thought you meant something else... :)
     
  22. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Hahaha:D That's made me laugh! Te Gato obviously frequents a more inferior type of restroom....
     
  23. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hi All;

    Ok...I'm a little back-woods but not that back-woods!!!:D

    Also here we have some very "posh" bathrooms..where you have to pay the attendant to go to the bathroom...mmmm :eek:
    I have often wondered what would happen if you had no money???

    te gato;)
     
  24. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    You have to pay to go to a toilet even in bars and clubs in Belgium. And my friend showed rather spectacularly in the corner of the bar room what happens if you have no money. Don't try dropping our names for a discount if you find yourself in Bruges...
     
  25. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hi Timpeac;

    Ha!!!and You thought I was back-woods...:D..
    To funny...

    te gato;)
     
  26. rpleimann Senior Member

    USA English
    I have highlighted offensive words in red.
     
  27. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    I think your friend made an excellent comment. Anyone who would charge someone to use a bathroom is, in mind, cruel! :)

    Gaer
     
  28. mirandolina

    mirandolina Senior Member

    Padua, Italy
    Scotland - English
    On the Belgian motorways they sit outside the toilet (restroom if you prefer) and the charge is written on a card, you have to pay to get in.
    They can get quite nasty if you sneak in without paying.

    Before the advent of the Euro the fee was written up in all the most common European currencies. It may still be written in pounds now as well as Euros, I can't remember, I try to go as little as possible when passing through Belgium!

    :)



     
  29. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    I'm sorry...
    I just can't believe that you have to pay to go to the bathroom...
    Here when traveling the highways it is nothing to see cars pulled over on the side of the road...You just learn not to look as you drive by :eek: ...
    I think there is even a course taught here...
    "how not to pee into the wind 101":D ...

    te gato;)
     
  30. mirandolina

    mirandolina Senior Member

    Padua, Italy
    Scotland - English
    Sorry Tim, I didn't notice you had already given the etymology, I skipped a page. Anyway it's added confirmation against the term "cloakroom".

    I don't know about schools in other parts of the world, but at my school in Scotland there was a "cloakroom" where we all had to hang our coats and change out of our "outdoor shoes" into "indoor shoes". The cloakroom was then locked throughout lesson times and opened again only at lunchtime and hometime. The toilets were nowhere near the cloakroom...... :)







     
  31. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    You know, that is enough to convince me never to go there. I'm serious.
     
  32. mirandolina

    mirandolina Senior Member

    Padua, Italy
    Scotland - English
    Don't let me stop you going to Belgium, there are lots of things to see APART FROM the boring motorways and their despicable loos.....
    In the restaurants in smaller towns they are often spotless and free. Tim was unlucky in Bruges!

    I'n afraid this thread is degenerating...... :D

     
  33. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    Well, I don't have enough money to vacation in the same state in which I live, so it's a moot point. :)

    We are on-topic, sort of…[​IMG]

    Gaer
     
  34. Jim 89 Junior Member

    Sydney, Australia. English
    Which words piss you off?

    Which words and expressions would you get rid of if you could and why?

    There are a lot of stupid words and expressions in English. Wouldn't you agree?

    Three of the Engllish words that I hate the most are "washroom", "restroom" and "bathroom". Why are there so many people out there who can't manage to call a toilet what it is. A toilet is a toilet is a toilet. Toilet! Toilet! Toilet!

    Who was the shit-for-brains who came up with the words "washroom" and "restroom"? Am I going there to rest ... on the toilet seat? No! Am I going there to wash ... in the toilet water? No! These are silly words and we'd be better off without them. A friend of mine once pointed out the fact that there was a seat that you sat on so he was arguing that there was nothing wrong with the word "restroom". However, I wasn't going to the room for a rest, there were plenty of other seats for me to sit on. You get up from your seat, go and use the toilet; you're not using it as a place of rest, you've just got up from your seat; you've got a very different purpose in mind.

    If there is no bath in the room then what right has it got to be called a "bathroom"? None! A bathroom is a room with a bath in it, no more no less. If you're going to the room to use the toilet don't tell me you're going to the "bathroom" as if you were going to have a bath. Don't lie. You're going to the toilet.

    Let's stop this nonesense. Boycott these stupid expressions.
     
  35. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    I'm very sorry to hear they don't have sinks in the "washrooms" where you come from. Washing up in the toilet must make for a dreary existence.

    As for 'restrooms' the phrase is Victorian in origin and trust me, there were couches etc for the cruelly-corsetted ladies to recline on for a 'rest' before trotting themselves out in front of the gentlemen again.

    I agree with you about 'bathroom' though.
     
  36. Lucretia Senior Member

    Russian
    Jim, you seem to be totally against euphemisms. Take it easy. Different people use different language and you can't change them.
     
  37. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    A "toilet" is the name of the receptacle, not the name of the room. The room may have a "toilet" and a "sink" in it or it may have a "toilet", "sink" and "bathtub". I know of none with only the toilet in it and if there are, it should properly be called the "toiletroom" (bedroom, livingroom, diningroom, etc.). In many circles, it is considered impolite to refer to bodily functions, hence the avoidance of broadcasting what you are planning to do in that room. Accordingly, at home, it is usually referred to as the "bathroom" because there is a bathtub in it, in public establishments it is usually called the "washroom" as there are no bathtubs and in gyms, etc., it is called the "shower room" or "locker room".
     
  38. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Toilet is itself a euphemism and is a derivation of the French toilette meaning dress. Therefore toilet is just a flash word for dressing room
    Lavatory is based on Latin lavare to wash. Lavatory is a flash word for washroom.
    A bathroom need not have a bath. A room for bathing may have a bath or a shower or a tap and basin or a bowl of water or some damp rags depending on the circumstances and it is still a bathroom. I go to a bathroom to wash myself in a various manners depending on circumstances.
    It is possible that we use bathroom and washroom in the hope that this will convince users to clean themselves before they leave.

    .,,
     
  39. Jim 89 Junior Member

    Sydney, Australia. English
    I don't find anything impolite about saying "toilet" but if you don't want to use the word just say "Excuse me." Why invent a stupid word like "restroom"?
     
  40. Fox30News New Member

    English
    Oh, and by the way, when I went to the Philippines (where English is an official language), they're called "comfort rooms." I half-expected someone to give me a hug when I went in there....

    So . . . comfort rooms, restrooms, toilets, washrooms, outhouses, cans, bathrooms, powder rooms, loos, water closets (I'm curious...explain this one to me), does it really matter what we call them? We have to relieve the strain on our anal sphincter and detrusor muscles somewhere, and you guys are arguing over what to _call_ that place! lol
     
  41. Jim 89 Junior Member

    Sydney, Australia. English
    How a simple word for an everyday thing came to be considered impolite is beyond me. It's a toilet. It is what it is. How can you be so tight-arsed as to find offence in the word? Why go around inventing silly words which pretend to mean something else?

    "Comfort room"? Here's another absurdity. How many toilets have you ever found comfortable? Even if they are comfortable, that's beside the point, you don't go there for comfort but relief. CIV, you wrote "'Restroom' probably came about in America (only my speculation) because most toilets in America also have a bath and sink in there. Hence, 'bathroom' or 'washroom.'" but this still doesn't make sense.

    After using a toilet you normally want to wash your hands so it's no supprise to find a sink in the room. However, washing your hands and resting are two completely different things, "restroom" is still illogical. "Washroom" is illogical too because, while you might wash your hands after the dirty deed, washing is not the purpose of the room.

    If there is a bath in the room then it makes sense to call it a "bathroom" but why say you're going to the "bathroom" when it's the toilet that you're using? Why try to deceive people? Also the presence of a bath hardly makes the room a "restroom". You might rest in a bath but baths were primarily designed for washing not resting. Besides the "rest" in "restroom" like the "wash" in "washroom" refers to the toilet not the bath.

    Sure, if I want to go and relieve myself, I probably wouldn't want to broadcast the fact. I might try find some way around mentioning where I'm going but I'm not going to pretent that I'm going for a bath, a rest, a wash or even comfort. Normally I'd say "Excuse me.", "I'll be back." or something.

    If you have to mention the name of the place and you can't handle the word "toilet", what's wrong with "the ladies", "the gents" or "the lavatory". At least with these words you're not pretending to be going somewhere that you're not. Also the words "loo", "can" and "dunny" are okay: there's no deception here. There is no excuse for stupid words. They should be thrown out.
     
  42. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Why are any words "invented"? Depending on your point of view, many words are "stupid". As indicated by mgarizona, "restroom" is correct from a historical point of view and "polite society" has maintained it. Stupid maybe, but I'm sure we can all find lots of examples of those! :)
     
  43. ireney

    ireney Modistra

    U.S.A.
    Greek Greece
    So, in order to be exact we should call them rooms where one can urinate and/or defecate in the right receptacle and (hopefully) wash after performing the aforementioned action alternatively to be used for washing even if aforementioned actions are not performed.

    Toilet is by no means offending but it's not exact either is it? I mean it could very well mean that someone is dressing and making him/herself beautiful in a room where urinating and/or defecating would be REALLY frowned upon.

    "Excuse me" is too vague in my opinion too since I use it when I am in a hurry and try to pass through a throng of people inadvertently causing discomfort to my fellow human beings. I also say "excuse me" when I get up to go answer the phone a function for which I don't need to remove/ displace any clothing.
     
  44. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I find it odd that you have difficulty with the euphemistic toilet but yet you 'relieve' yourself in the toilet.
    Words are indeed weird.

    .,,
     
  45. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Start right there - you used the word "I". We are, thankfully, all different. Celebrate that fact by recognising our diversity by allowing that others are offended by things which we take as part of everyday speech.

    I don't know you, and have no wish to offend you, but I'm sure there is some word which you could insert into this sentence —> "Go away, you're only a _ _ _ _" which would offend you, but which, to me on the other side of the world, would be a commonplace expression.


    So how does someone in a strange location go about enquiring how to get there? Does one go to the nearest employee and ask "Excuse me, where's the excuse me?"
     
  46. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    What a fascinating subject! We used to call it the 'bog' at svhool in the UK although I can not imagine any relation to a marsh or fen or peat bog! The word you choose to use for this activity may often depend ont eh company you're with at the time. Among men it is not unusual to say 'I'm going for a pee' or 'I'm going to have a shit.' (straightforward and no beating about the bush),

    Dimcl, in the UK the majority of homes have a bathroom and separate toilet or WC where there is no handbasin (sink in AE).

    Just as an anecdote for a laugh, there is a shop in the King's Road in Chelsea, London which manufactures and sells toilet basins, the name of which is incredibly 'W.C.Crap & Sons!'
     
  47. Dmitry_86

    Dmitry_86 Senior Member

    A very interesting discussion indeed. As a non-native I have found all this information very interesting and sometimes slightly weird as, for example, the usage of "restroom", "washroom" and "bathroom" more common in AE. However, I would like to summarize all the points of view expressed so far so as to know exactly particular names of "toilet" in different places. Below I have written the list of places where toilest definitely exist. Please, point out how it (toliet) is usually called there:

    1) at schools, universities, colleges, offices (at work)
    2) in public places (at railway stations, at hospitals, in supermarkets, in the street)
    3) in cultural public places (at the cinemas, theatres)
    4) in some means of transport (on the trains, on the planes, on the intercity buses)
    5) At home
     
  48. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I would suggest that in BE, all of these would be referred to as the toilet (slang apart, of course).
     
  49. Dmitry_86

    Dmitry_86 Senior Member

    I agree with you especially after reading the previous posts in this thread. However, I am more interested in inscriptions on the doors of toilets. For example, as far as I know, in many public places one can see "WC". My question is concerned with these different names: "toilet", "WC", "lavatory" and so on.
     
  50. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    In that case, it would probably be as follows:

    In most public places today there would be a symbol rather than words, otherwise:

    1) at schools, universities, colleges, offices (at work) men/women
    2) in public places (at railway stations, at hospitals, in supermarkets, in the street) men/women (gents/ladies)
    3) in cultural public places (at the cinemas, theatres) (gents/ladies)
    4) in some means of transport (on the trains, on the planes, on the intercity buses) (toilet/WC)
    5) At home(nothing)

    In some places you may still find 'public conveniences' or even 'public lavatories'.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009

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