inspect the plumbing

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Zeidan

Senior Member
Arabic
I've come across this phrase "inspect the plumbing" in a context in which it means going to the toilet.
I just wonder if this phrase is used in American or British English.

the sentence was " he wanted to leave the room to inspect the plumbing".

thanks in advance.
 
  • savannah

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I haven't heard of it, but I figured it out right away. I suspect it's a polite euphemism, something like "I'm going to powder my nose." It's a way of indicating that you plan to go use the toilet while not actually saying so directly. If you're going to head to the bathroom, you might say "I need to inspect the plumbing" as a tongue-in-cheek way of providing an excuse for going to that room.
     

    anothersmith

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    That's true; although I'd never heard the term before, I think most native speakers of English would understand what you meant if you excused yourself to "go check on the plumbing."
     

    Zeidan

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    thanks a lot, actually the writer was a native speaker of English, and he is a teacher. He used after this the expression " answer the call of nature" which means going to the toilet also.

    anyway, thanks a lot.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Yes, used from time to time here as a euphemism for pointing percy at the porcelain.
    The particular example is a bit strange, perhaps too formal?
    Normal usage would be:
    I'm just going to inspect the plumbing.
    Where's Bill? He's gone to inspect the plumbing.

    Oh - I've just realised why I think the example sentence is odd:
    He wanted to leave the room to inspect the plumbing.
    When I was at school, the standard request to the teacher was:
    Please may I leave the room?
     

    Voxy

    Senior Member
    Deutschland, deutsch
    I haven't heard of it, but I figured it out right away. I suspect it's a polite euphemism, something like "I'm going to powder my nose." It's a way of indicating that you plan to go use the toilet while not actually saying so directly. If you're going to head to the bathroom, you might say "I need to inspect the plumbing" as a tongue-in-cheek way of providing an excuse for going to that room.
    Just out of curiosity. Does the expression "inspect the plumbing" sounds
    in any way funny to native ears? I am asking, because i laught my socks off
    when i carried that particular expression into German. Well, i guess
    context matters a lot.
     

    savannah

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Hmm...

    Not laugh-out-loud funny. More like annoying, joke-cracking goofy uncle funny. If that makes any sense:)
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi All,

    I have heard that expression used. We have many euphamisms for going to the bathroom. The one you gave is much more straightforward than, "I'm going to see a man about a horse." which is also used (infrequently) and with the same meaning.
     
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