polite term for 'defecate'

< Previous | Next >

Elaine Koh

Senior Member
Singapore English
In my country, when we defecate, we say 'pass motion'. I don't think this is correct.

What is the correct simple word or words to say this action? I think 'defecate' is a big word and not polite.

Many thanks.
 
  • yourfairlady05

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - United States
    You can use the noun "bowel movement" or if you are looking for a verb you could say "have a bowel movement" or "have a B.M."
     

    BAS24

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I think it depends on what the occasion is. I don't see defecate as impolite but it is a formal word (as is bowel movement). If among friends and in an informal setting, one might here "do number 2". I think it really depends on context.
     

    Elaine Koh

    Senior Member
    Singapore English
    Hi GreenWhiteBlue

    I am surprise that Defecate is certainly every bit as polite as any of its alternatives, including the one suggested so far.

    Am I right to say that it if not rude to ask "Are you passing water or defecating?" if I want to use the toilet and someone is inside. I mean I want to know whether I have to wait a long or short time.

    Thanks in advance.
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    Am I right to say that it if not rude to ask "Are you passing water or defecating?" if I want to use the toilet and someone is inside. I mean I want to know whether I have to wait a long or short time.
    Well, 'defecate' is a reasonably polite term, but I would find it rude if someone asked me this question regardless of which words for defecation and urination they used. I agree that "Will you be long?" is infinitely more polite than referring to what you will be doing specifically. (Though, asking about this in the first place sounds kind of rude. They'll take as long as they need to, and it's none of anyone else's business.)
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Well, 'defecate' is a reasonably polite term, but I would find it rude if someone asked me this question regardless of which words for defecation and urination they used. I agree that "Will you be long?" is infinitely more polite than referring to what you will be doing specifically. (Though, asking about this in the first place sounds kind of rude. They'll take as long as they need to, and it's none of anyone else's business.)
    I agree - the only people 'licensed' to discuss your bathroom activities would be family members and your doctor... :D The discussion of how one would behave in a public lavatory belongs in the Cultural discussions forum.

    /Wilma
     

    Elaine Koh

    Senior Member
    Singapore English
    Hi Wilma

    You wrote: ... the only people 'licensed' to discuss your bathroom activities would be family members and your doctor.

    I was thinking of family members when talking about the topic.

    What is my question if I ask one of my family members?

    "Will you take long?" Am I correct?
     

    Elaine Koh

    Senior Member
    Singapore English
    Thanks, Aardvark01

    It is culture. In my country, when we use dialect, it is ok to ask in any way as long if the toilet user understand you.

    Anyway thanks to you and all the other members who helped me.
     

    Pantalaimon

    Member
    UK English.
    It is probably just as well if you don't find an English translation - it is definitely not a question you should ever ask a native English speaker.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It is probably just as well if you don't find an English translation - it is definitely not a question you should ever ask a native English speaker.
    The intent behind the original question is genuine. In circumstances where the facilities are limited and within a family (as Elaine Koh has explained) the need for this kind of question is very real - and in my family it was not at all surprising for someone to knock on the door and ask "Will you be long?" We had our own "code" for responses and the rest of the dialogue.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Elaine, I think it will depend on your own family and what you're used to. I wouldn't use defaecate (and it's from Latin, as the traditional <ae> combination will indicate!) because that sounds like a technical word. I'm afraid in our family, we use children's terms - 'Are you doing a poo or a wee?' - partly because we used them when the children were young and haven't changed now they're older.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top