bathroom/restroom (American English)

KennyHun

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hi everyone,

In my apartment the bathroom and the room with the toilet in it are separated. Since as far as I know Americans never use toilet to mean the room it is in, but rather they refer to whatever room has a toilet as a bathroom, I'm wondering how to properly describe the room with the toilet, since bathroom is already being used to refer to the actual bathroom rigth next to it. I have thought of restroom and lavatory, but to me they both sound a tad too formal. Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance ! :)
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Does the room you're describing have a sink, or any other fixture we normally associate with a bathroom? Or is it just a small room with only a toilet? If it's the latter, then that's something that would be very unusual in American homes, and we don't have a very standard way of describing it.

    Either way, I think we would probably end up saying "the bathroom," "the small bathroom," "the bathroom on the left," or something of that sort.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    My understanding is that Americans might say 'half bath' or 'half bathroom' if there's a toilet and a sink. What would the little rooms in planes be called?

    Not being American, I'd be happy with toilet, loo, lavatory or WC.
     

    KennyHun

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    It's just the toilet. No sink or anything like that. I understand this would be highly unusual in the US, but I would wager a guess this is standard in most apartments in "panel housing" in my country (if you've ever been to an eastern European country you probably know what I mean; apartments found in typical Soviet-style appartment blocks, usually either 5 or 10 stories tall). At most, there may be a smallish sink directly on one of the walls.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    My understanding is that Americans might say 'half bath' or 'half bathroom' if there's a toilet and a sink. What would the little rooms in planes be called?
    We call airborne loos "lavatories" (a departure from the frequent use of nautical terms for aircraft)

    I don't recall every hearing "half bath" outside of the context of a real estate description

    We certainly don't say "Excuse me. I need use the half bath." :cool:

    Post #2 is spot-on.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    I have seen homes, especially those with a particularly elaborate master bath, in which the toilet was in a sort of closet inside the bathroom. That is, you'd enter one room which might have double sinks, a tub big enough for two, a separate shower, and another little room with only a toilet in it. I suppose the idea is that one person might want to be lounging in the tub or even shaving or something while another person wanted more privacy to use the toilet. I guess the architect thought it was just too cruel to block access to the whole grand room while one person was taking a poop.

    Anyway, I have no idea what that little room was called. I would call it a "separate toilet room."
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Just out of curiosity, back in the day, the toilet was outside. What was it called at that time - surely not the bathroom?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ...In my apartment the bathroom and the room with the toilet in it are separated. Since as far as I know Americans never use toilet to mean the room it is in, ... I'm wondering how to properly describe the room with the toilet...
    Easy! Use British English. Although we have many euphemisms, they're not usually as silly as the idea of taking a bath in the loo. :D
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    It's just the toilet. No sink or anything like that.
    We just call it ......the toilet room. :) ...as opposed to the bathroom which has everything in one room (toilet, tub, sink etc.) Fractions of bathrooms are only relevant to realtors, in my opinion.
     

    LaVache

    Senior Member
    English- American
    I would just refer to it as the "toilet."

    "Bathroom" would be ok too, though I think "toilet" makes it more clear.

    It would be unusual for me to say "toilet room," "half bath," "half bathroom" or "throne room." From what I understand from your post, it's in the house therefore "outhouse" doesn't work. If it's a separate building from the rest of the house, "outhouse" would be appropriate. The words "lavatory," "loo" and "WC" aren't used often here in the US. In England, I imagine those words are commonly used to describe what you're talking about. I've never heard "Powder room," though apparently it's used in Canada.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    "Rest rooms" are only found in public buildings (bus terminals, restaurants, department stores, etc). In a park, for example, they also are (or used to be) sometimes called "comfort stations".
     

    LaVache

    Senior Member
    English- American
    "Rest rooms" are only found in public buildings (bus terminals, restaurants, department stores, etc). In a park, for example, they also are (or used to be) sometimes called "comfort stations".
    Yes that's true. If you're invited to someone's house and you need to use the toilet, you wouldn't ask "Where's the restroom?" For that situation you'd say "Where's the toilet/bathroom?" However if you were in a public building, "Where are the restrooms?" is the most polite way to ask.

    It's interesting; the things we do, but never think about until someone asks a question about English.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I've never heard "Powder room," though apparently it's used in Canada.
    I don't think it's popular these days, but it was a perfectly common euphemism, especially for women who needed to leave the table in a restaurant for the purpose. See powder room

    Also note that it was in the thoroughly American film Breakfast at Tiffany's See this thread.

    If you're invited to someone's house and you need to use the toilet, you wouldn't ask "Where's the restroom?"
    I wouldn't generalize to that extent. I hear it frequently and use it myself. :)
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Like others, I'm in agreement with Glenfarclas (post #2). My home has a standard bathroom (tub, sink, toilet) upstairs, as well as another room downstairs with just a toilet and a sink. If guests ask to use the bathroom or the restroom, I direct them to that smaller room (which could also be called a lavatory, although I haven't heard that word used in recent years). The two rooms would be described in a real-estate ad as "1½ baths", even though there's no bathtub in the smaller room and we never refer to that room alone as a "half-bath".

    I've never seen a room with only a toilet and no provision for washing one's hands after using it.
     
    Last edited:

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I've never seen a room with only a toilet and no provision for washing one's hands after using it.
    You will find such toilets in plenty in India:(, especially in rural areas and older houses. The sink will be just outside the toilet room, or after using the toilet, you may have to go to another room, the bathroom with a shower, sink, tap, etc but no toilet.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Re sdg's #18: I'd say 'powder room' is used exclusively by women. I may be mistaken but I think in GB it's only women who say 'to spend a penny' for 'to take a pee', too. (Since there are cultural references in this thread: in the US, women successfully sued for pay toilets to be removed from women's public toilets, on the grounds that they were discriminatory because men who only needed to pee didn't have to pay to use a urinal.)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Yes that's true. If you're invited to someone's house and you need to use the toilet, you wouldn't ask "Where's the restroom?" For that situation you'd say "Where's the toilet/bathroom?" However if you were in a public building, "Where are the restrooms?" is the most polite way to ask.

    It's interesting; the things we do, but never think about until someone asks a question about English.
    You saved me the typing. This is exactly what I was going to say.

    In some hotels there is an extra wash station outside the bathroom. I am uncertain what that is called. In old movies you see a wash basin and pitcher in hotel rooms. The basin and pitcher sat on a "wash stand" and that is what I would call the sink outside the bathroom in the home. In the workplace I would call it a "wash station".

    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washstand

    "A washstand or basin stand is a piece of furniture consisting of a small table or cabinet, usually supported on three or four legs, and most commonly made of mahogany, walnut, or rosewood, and made for holding a wash basin and water pitcher..."
     

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    However if you were in a public building, "Where are the restrooms?" is the most polite way to ask.
    Since I would only care about the rest room appropriate for me, and since the facilities for ladies may not be in the same place as those for gentlemen, in a public building I would be much more inclined to say "Where is the men's room?", and I would not think it any less polite.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Since I would only care about the rest room appropriate for me, and since the facilities for ladies may not be in the same place as those for gentlemen, in a public building I would be much more inclined to say "Where is the men's room?", and I would not think it any less polite.
    And more efficient as the men's room and the ladies' rooms could easily be at opposite ends of the building.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Re sdg's #18: I'd say 'powder room' is used exclusively by women.
    Quite true ... I should have said something to the effect that the euphemism might be more popular in public situations. :oops:
    in the US, women successfully sued for pay toilets to be removed from women's public toilets, on the grounds that they were discriminatory because men who only needed to pee didn't have to pay to use a urinal.
    As I remember it, the toilets themselves stayed put, but the coin locks were removed from the doors of the stalls.;)

    Also, as I remember it, the big name in the pay-to-pee industry was the Nik-O-Lok Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. It was so named because it took a nickel (an American five-cent piece) to open the lock on the door. (Obviously, the name didn't allow for inflation.)

    I was working in Indianapolis at the time (mid-70s) and the local newspapers always wanted quick reports of changes in local laws that would affect the local toilet-lock industry.

    The company is still in business, but apparently focuses on access to the entire room (including urinal) rather than each stall.

    For those interested, Wikipedia has an extensive report on pay toilets.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    If there is a sink in it, we call it a powder room.
    I'd have thought a mirror would be more appropriate than a sink.:D But what do I know? Make-up's not really my thing!
    In a park, for example, they also are (or used to be) sometimes called "comfort stations".
    I always used to think "restroom" was the king of euphemisms until I first heard "comfort station". At least the various BrE terms (and even AmE bathroom) have some sort of link with water/washing/flushing. "Restroom" sounds to me like somewhere to take a power nap (possible, if not exactly comfortable;)), and "comfort station" like the mattress section of a department store.:D
    I've never seen a room with only a toilet and no provision for washing one's hands after using it
    They're very common in French houses (not mine, fortunately). I've often been at parties where you see people coming out of the toilet and then opening every nearby door in search of the bathroom.
    I may be mistaken but I think in GB it's only women who say 'to spend a penny' for 'to take a pee', too
    It's not an expression I hear often these days, but in the past I've heard it used by both women and men. (Though it probably wouldn't be used by a bunch of dock-workers in a pub!)

    Ws
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    At least here in New York, many restaurant restrooms are now unisex.
    Starbucks all seem to have men's rooms and ladies rooms. But the one local to my office has two unisex rooms. I asked about that and the manager said it was "to comply with local restrictions". Both are wheel chair accessible. I guess the local laws forbid sex-specific restrooms. Perhaps to respect the dignity of cross dressing individuals.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    'Spend a penny' does not seem female language to me. I don't hear it said much, but it comes up in newspapers now and again.

    Do you only say 'men's room' in the US? I would tend to say gents.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    'Spend a penny' does not seem female language to me. I don't hear it said much, but it comes up in newspapers now and again.

    Do you only say 'men's room' in the US? I would tend to say gents.
    Men's room. Gent's room sounds a bit pretentious. Gentlemen's room more likely than Gent's.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    It's fairly normal in the UK to refer to the gents an the ladies. (Usually spelt thus: no caps, no apostrophes.) We might say 'men's toilet' but not, I think, 'gent's toilet' or 'gentleman's toilet'!
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Men's room. Gent's room sounds a bit pretentious. Gentlemen's room more likely than Gent's.
    It's fairly normal in the UK to refer to the gents an the ladies. (Usually spelt thus: no caps, no apostrophes.) We might say 'men's toilet' but not, I think, 'gent's toilet' or 'gentleman's toilet'!
    I smell a misunderstanding.:) BE says "Gents'" just like that, by itself: as in "Where's the Gents'?" Not "Gents' room". "The Gentlemen's Room" on the other hand, sounds like a strip club.:D

    As for the original question, I grew up in a house with a toilet in a room by itself. And we too called it the toilet room.
     
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