restroom/toilet/bathroom/loo

JulianStuart

Senior Member
English (UK then US)
My sister's house in Oxford is large and old and the smallish room just inside the front door is where they have a toilet and basin and lots of hooks for coats and they call it the cloakroom (as did the previous owners) - cloaks, however, only appear at Hallowe'en:D
Wikipedia (not necessarily a good guide here) purports to debunk the cloaque/cloaca suggestion
The word is often thought to be derived from the French cloaque (sewer);[citation needed] however, it comes from the French cloque meaning "traveling cloak".[1]
 
  • Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Sorry, JS — along with my examples of public places I should have included "and large old private houses in Oxford".;)
    [...] What do cloaks, as in garments, have to do with it? Is it because you also use the (BrE) toilet to change your clothes? [...]
    Actually, in mediæval days, the toilets in castles (consisting simply of a long shaft emptying into a pit or into the moat) were called garderobes — because people did keep their clothes there, believing that the rising sewage fumes would keep away the clothes-moths! The word later evolved into wardrobe, though no longer with the toilet function; (presumably someone had invented mothballs by then :D).

    Ws:)
     

    Grumpy Old Man

    Senior Member
    I was in a bar in Cyprus with an English friend of mine years ago. When he went to the gents', he said: Excuse me, I'll have to go and see my solicitor. When he returned, he said: I just shook hands with my wife's best friend.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    in mediæval days, the toilets in castles (consisting simply of a long shaft emptying into a pit or into the moat) were called garderobes — because people did keep their clothes there, believing that the rising sewage fumes would keep away the clothes-moths! The word later evolved into wardrobe, though no longer with the toilet function; (presumably someone had invented mothballs by then :D).
    That’s very inventive but OED “1953 P. C. Berg Dict. New Words 56/1 Cloakroom, euphemism for lavatory.” seems to be the earliest reference.

    In some houses the toilet on the ground floor often doubles as a room for hanging up outer garments (coats. etc.), so rather than refer to the room by its primary function, its secondary is chosen.

    I also recall that in the 4 schools that attended, the cloakroom (where hats and coats were hung) was next to the toilets. likewise at dance halls, the cloakroom and the toilets were closes to each other. Thus saying, “I’m going to the cloakroom.” was a plausible reason for walking in that direction.
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    I think this idea that the cloakroom and the toilets were in close proximity makes the most sense. Thank you all so very much! It was an interesting and fun discussion :)
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    That’s very inventive but OED “1953 P. C. Berg Dict. New Words 56/1 Cloakroom, euphemism for lavatory.” seems to be the earliest reference. [...]
    OK, but I was talking about garderobe, not cloakroom.

    Inventive? Not sure if you mean the clothes-preservation method or the story.;) In fact, garderobe is attested from the early 14th century. It's clear, both etymologically and from recorded usage, that it meant a place where clothes were kept. It's also clear that it meant a toilet facility in a mediæval building: this meaning is given in the online Oxford Dictionary (so presumably also in the full OED), as well as in other dictionaries (Collins, Random House, ...), and it appears widely in historical and architectural publications.

    The explanation involving the belief in protecting clothes from moths (or rather mites) and other invasive wildlife is often mentioned, though admittedly there's a shortage of hard proof — but there's also a shortage of any other explanation, and I've found no evidence or argument to disprove it. There must have been some reason for using the rankest, smelliest, place in the castle for clothes storage, and so far that's the only explanation I've ever seen proposed.

    I suppose it could be argued that the use of garderobe for the toilet was simply a euphemism, but from what I know of late Middle English culture and language that seems very unlikely. That kind of demureness wasn't a feature of the language of the time, as Chaucer's writings tend to show!

    If it is a myth, it's certainly not a recent one. This extract from William White's Notes and Queries (Oxford University Press, 1870) [expand page 88] recounts it as unquestioned fact.
    [...] I also recall that in the 4 schools that attended, the cloakroom (where hats and coats were hung) was next to the toilets. likewise at dance halls, the cloakroom and the toilets were closes to each other. [...]
    Yes indeed. To my ...
    [...] in many public places such as theatres, restaurants, event venues, etc, the toilets are often situated in or next to the cloakroom. [...]
    ... I could have added not only Julian's sister's house, but also schools and dance halls. I can't remember how it was in all six schools I attended, but I know that in at least two of them the boys' cloakroom (real sense) and toilet cubicles were in the same room, while the girls' cloakroom and toilets were together in another single room.

    Ws:)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    If I have a guest staying overnight, I might well say: "Go through that door and the bathroom's on the right, the loo is on the left." This is a polite way of saying that if you want to brush your teeth or take a bath or shower, use the room on the right; if you want to relieve yourself, use the room on the left.

    NOW: what would an American say for my phrase in bold? Because in spite of all the above discussion, I still don't know. I doubt that JustKate (#44) would call them both 'bathroom' - that would be pointless. 'Half-bath' ? Really?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Keith, we need specifics :D
    1) Is there a sink in the loo in your sentence?
    2) Are you asking what an American might say showing someone around your house while you were away?
    3) If there is no sink in the loo*, the American would explain that anomaly (it is strange situation to them, whether the house is in the UK or the US) to the guest being shown around and would need to add "You can use the loo but you will need to go across to the bathroom to wash your hands."

    After all that - if there is a sink in the loo, they might** say "There's a half-bath on the left and a bathroom without a toilet on the right":eek: ('cause to them, the "toilet" is the porcelain chair itself).

    Edit: * I just re-read and assume the teeth brushing information indicates there is no sink in the loo.

    Edit:** I am not a "native" AmE seaker, so that will probably need authentication
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The OED has jakes, but I see jacks in one of their quotations. Not marked as Irish though. (Apparently derived from the name Jaques. A little like how john is used in AmE.)
    1944 M. Lowry Let. 4 Mar. in Sursum Corda! (1995) I. 439 Let's face it, he reads in the jakes.
    1990 R. Doyle Snapper (1992) 20 I went into the jacks there this mornin' an' Linda was sittin' in there readin' a comic.
    2005 Guardian 10 Jan. (G2 section) 7 A seedy airport jakes.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An Irish member brought that one to the table in post #17, Mr S, though he spelt it jax :)
    :thumbsup:Ah! I got no results when I searched this thread for the word "jacks".
    The OED has jakes, but I see jacks in one of their quotations. Not marked as Irish though. (Apparently derived from the name Jaques. A little like how john is used in AmE.)
    Well, here's an Irish newspaper that claims that "the jacks" derives from the name Jack Power, an Irishman who is said to have invented a multi-cubicle arrangement.
     
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    andreaortiz

    New Member
    English - U.S.
    Good question! Does the room you are asking about also have a washbasin? I just asked my American wife about a room with only a toilet and no washbasin and she was stumped. That's probably because a room with only a toilet (i.e. the thing you sit on:D) is uncommon, at least in today's construction - they almost always have both. The room without a bath seems to be called a 1/2 bath, but only when describing the details of, for example, a house for sale. Such a room in a home would probably still be referred to as a "bathroom" in conversation. I'll also be interested to hear other AmE input on conversational names for 1) a room with only a toilet and 2) a room with both a toilet and washbasin but no shower or bathtub. The latter would be called a "restroom" if you were looking for it in, say, a restaurant. In a house, you'd probably ask for the "restroom" or "bathroom" but if you want to describe the room above, you may need to explain the concept in words.
    As far as a room with only a toilet, I've definitely used/heard "the toilet room," referring to a smaller room within a master bathroom consisting of only a toilet and maybe cabinet space above it (complete with door).

    For a room with both a toilet and washbasin, I'd say "the guest bathroom." Bathrooms without a bathtub (lol), usually off the kitchen or living room, are generally considered "guest bathrooms," at least where I live, though on paper, and sometimes in everyday speech, "half-bath" is the way to go.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Related, of course, to AmE ass. This is because certain words went non-rhotic (the r wasn't pronounced) and then the word got respelt. Another example is cuss for curse.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And what is the slang word not for the place, but for the vessel, i.e., toilet in AE?

    "I dumped/poured it down the toilet" - What can I replace 'the toilet' with to use slang? Pot? Shitter? Pisshole?
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    None of these. Where did you find them?
    Polish-English dictionary listed them and a few others
    I typed in the Polish slang word and this is what the dictionary lists: kibel - Tłumaczenie po angielsku - Słownik polsko-angielski Diki


    Try the common BE term 'loo'.
    But ' a loo' I believe is the room, I need a slang word for the vessel depicted in the picture. I want to say "I poured the soup down the (slang word for the vessel not for the room).
     

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    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I understand what you need a word for. 'Loo' is perfect. We can pour stuff down a loo, or walk into one.

    She poured it down the loo. :tick:

    It's informal, very common, and inoffensive.

    Why do you want a slang word?
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Exactly. Polish-English dictionary says it is a shitter or a pisshole.
    I have never heard anyone try to specify the white porcelain object with such a slang term before - both those words could refer to the place where it located as easily as to the white thing itself. I feel your ( :eek: ) search may be in vain. (In AE the word "toilet" does specify the porcelain, although it's clearly not slang, while in BE it refers to the room). Another euphemism, this time for the porcelain is "throne" but I doubt that meets the requirement.

    (I agree with heypresto: I could sort of understand adding to your passive vocabulary but why the active search?)
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Why would you want to use such unpleasant terms? I'm certainly no prude, and am happy to use slang, but these are simply horrible words.
    Ok I get it now. I needed the word because we often say it in Polish in everyday language. If I dump or pour something down the toilet, I would simply use a slang word in Polish. But it looks like you don't in English.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Ok I get it now. I needed the word because we often say it in Polish in everyday language. If I dump or pour something down the toilet, I would simply use a slang word in Polish. But it looks like you don't in English.
    It is the specification of the white thing thatb is the issue. Any pf the vulgar slang words can refer to either the room or the device, even crapper.


    crap•per (krapər), n. [Slang](vulgar) .
    1. Slang Terms a toilet.
    2. Slang Terms a bathroom.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Ok I get it now. I needed the word because we often say it in Polish in everyday language. If I dump or pour something down the toilet, I would simply use a slang word in Polish. But it looks like you don't in English.
    I do. I say "I've dumped/poured it down the bog". :D
     

    Erebos12345

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    In response to #74, I vote for crapper (#87).

    Short of coming up with my own alternatives, my next choice would be shitter...which apparently isn't a real word, judging by the squiggly red lines underneath it.

    And wouldn't pisshole refer to the end of the urethra, where urine exits the body?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think the point is that English speakers don't generally feel the need to use vulgar slang for the toilet. I'm thinking of the iconic scene in Trainspotting.
    1573095562527.png

    It's supposed to be the dirtiest and most disgusting toilet, and you'd think in such a context you'd want some vulgar slang. But no, it's just 'the worst toilet in Scotland'.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't know about where you live but where I live people don't use the toilet as a general disposal system. We put bodily waste down the toilet in the way it was designed for. We have no need to describe it because it's doing its normal job. So I've never had that situation come up.

    Added: If you had a pet goldfish that died you might simply "flush it". If forced to add something, I would say "down the toilet".
     
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