restroom, washroom, bathroom, toilet, loo, WC, lavatory

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JamesM

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
In the U.S., "bathroom" would work in all of these situations in conversation. Oddly, I don't think we actually use the word "bathroom" on a sign, but everyone would understand "bathroom" and would direct you to the right place.

On a map or guide you would most likely see the word "restroom". This is also a common word on signs. In all situations except a home, "restroom" would be a polite word to use. I have heard people use "restroom" in homes but it strikes me as a little odd. I think of a restroom as a public facility.

I can't imagine seeing "WC" or "toilet" on a sign in the U.S. I believe "lavatory" is used on planes.

[edit] I'm sorry. I missed the additional informaion about the question. The sign directing you to the location of the rooms would say "restroom", but for the actual sign on the door, I would expect to see the international symbols in any public place and the word "men" under the symbol for a man and "women" for the word under the symbol for a woman.

I haven't read through the entire thread carefully so I may be repeating someone else, but in the U.S. "toilet" brings to mind the actual fixture you sit on, not the whole room.
 
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  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    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.
    Ah, if you're talking about inscriptions on doors...

    You're most likely in the UK to see symbols of a male (no skirt) and female (skirt).

    You may well see "Ladies" and "Gentlemen"/"Gents"; "Women" and "Men"; M[ale] and F[emale].

    You might see "WC", followed by "Ladies" or "Gentlemen"/"Gents" (or a symbol, or the other options above).

    You are unlikely to see "toilet"; and "lavatory" is (I'd say) out of the question.
     
    In the U.S., "bathroom" would work in all of these situations in conversation. Oddly, I don't think we actually use the word "bathroom" on a sign, but everyone would understand "bathroom" and would direct you to the right place.

    On a map or guide you would most likely see the word "restroom". This is also a common word on signs. In all situations except a home, "restroom" would be a polite word to use. I have heard people use "restroom" in homes but it strikes me as a little odd. I think of a restroom as a public facility.

    I can't imagine seeing "WC" or "toilet" on a sign in the U.S. I believe "lavatory" is used on planes.
    So "restroom" is the only word in the USA used in public places mentioned above (aside from "lavatory", which can be seen on planes)?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    So "restroom" is the only word in the USA used in public places mentioned above (aside from "lavatory", which can be seen on planes)?
    It is dangerous to make such a blanket statement. I am sure that it is possible to see something else. The U.S. is a very large country and I haven't seen all of it. Overall, though, I would say that it is by far the most common and I cannot think of an example where "washroom" is used on a sign in my daily experience.
     
    It is dangerous to make such a blanket statement. I am sure that it is possible to see something else. The U.S. is a very large country and I haven't seen all of it. Overall, though, I would say that it is by far the most common and I cannot think of an example where "washroom" is used on a sign in my daily experience.
    I did not make any statement. On the contrary, I asked a question in order to find out what are other ways of calling a certain place (which a BE speaker would call "toilet") in the USA. As you can see, there is a question mark at the end of the sentence in my previous post. So I would really appreciate it if you or someone else from the USA (since the BE options have been already mentioned exhaustively) introduced another synonym and the place where this word may be come across (seen).
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    In AE, bathroom is also widely used. In a public place, signs will always say "restrooms," however many people say bathroom even for a public facility which does not have a bathtub.

    For example, sitting with friends, I'm more likely to say "Excuse me, I'm going to go to the bathroom." In asking directions (say from a waiter) I might say "restroom" or "bathroom."

    In a person's home, the place would always be called a bathroom. If someone came to my house for dinner and asked for the "restroom" I'd be inclined to send a bill for the meal.
     
    I see the point. Imagine the situation (in the USA !!!) when, for example, someone living together with you says that he is going to the bathroom without adding any further information. In BE, by the way, it means that he is going to take a shower and wash himself (probably, including the cleaning of teeth, shaving and some other regular things, which are done every day or several times a week). However, in AE, as I might guess, it may mean both going to the toilet and washing yourself. For this reason, how would you manage to understand what exactly he is going to do? In my opinion, this phrase is ambiguous if no additional information is provided.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    [In a question concerning the use of the terms "washroom" and "bathroom" in the US]As inscriptions on doors? (Straightforward question, I'm interested:))
    I have seen neither one used. I would expect bathroom to be used only in speech when referring to a public restroom, and then most often when a child is speaking or is being spoken to. The most common inscriptions on doors would be MEN and WOMEN, when words are used, while a very many public restrooms just have an icon on the door.

    In speech, if the word restroom is not used, my impression is that the terms most commonly used are the men's room and the ladies' room.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    If the facilities used by the different sexes are in different directions, it would not be strange to see a sign indicating that the Men's Room was one way, and the Ladies' Room or Women's Room was in the other direction. In a school, it would not be surprising to see the doors of the such rooms intended for the use of the students labelled "Girls" and "Boys", while those intended for the teachers might be labelled "Male Faculty" and "Female Faculty".

    If I were in a restaurant or a store, I would probably ask "Where is the men's room?" or "Where are the restrooms?"
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    In response to Dmitry, the listener does not know exactly what one is doing, and it is frankly none of their business. That goes for short visits only though. If I had a friend waiting for me in my home and I planned to take a shower, I would not say "I am going to the bathroom." I would say "I'm going to take a shower."

    To my ear, the words have different gradations of formality. Ladies room is the most formal, very slightly high-falutin to my ear. Restroom is in between, a pretty neutral safe term which will offend no one. Bathroom is the most casual term, but its use is not at all restricted to speaking with children, as someone suggested above.

    If I have a high-level lunch, I might say "excuse me, I'm going to the ladies room," but restroom would also be an option and bathroom would not be at all shocking.

    In asking directions from staff of large hotel, museum or theatre I would be most likely say "ladies room" or "restroom." If I did use bathroom in a large place I probably would use it in plural, as in "where are the bathrooms, please?" In a small family style restaurant I'd be more likely to say "where is your bathroom please?"

    The signs in the U.S. almost exclusively say "Restrooms" or if (as noted above) there are two signs pointing in different directions, "ladies room" and "men's room." Washroom or lavatory are both possible in the U.S. but sound a bit pretentious/foreign. The type of restaurant which might have a "washroom" might also have frilly Victorian curtains and pictures of English countryside all over the walls.

    Embonpoint
     
    Ok. My question is similar to that in post #65: how do you distinguish the meanings? "Restroom", as far as I understand, may imply not only "toilet" but a place for relaxaing and having entertainment.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I see the point. Imagine the situation (in the USA !!!) when, for example, someone living together with you says that he is going to the bathroom without adding any further information. In BE, by the way, it means that he is going to take a shower and wash himself (probably, including the cleaning of teeth, shaving and some other regular things, which are done every day or several times a week). However, in AE, as I might guess, it may mean both going to the toilet and washing yourself. For this reason, how would you manage to understand what exactly he is going to do? In my opinion, this phrase is ambiguous if no additional information is provided.
    I'm sorry that I miscommunicated earlier. I did not mean that you had made the statement. I meant it would be dangerous for me to make a blanket statement. I learn new things about my own country daily.

    Ironically, I think we use "going to the bathroom" to mean "use the toilet" more than anything else. If my son or wife is planning to wash up before a meal, he or she will say, "I'm just going to wash up before lunch/dinner." If someone is taking a shower or bath, the specific action is usually mentioned: "I'm going to take a shower now." If, however, someone is planning to use the toilet, it is common to hear: "I'm going to the bathroom" or "I'm going to use the bathroom", or even "I'm stopping off at the bathroom."

    I imagine it's an odd euphemism for others, but it is automatic, at least in my experience.
     

    Redshade

    Banned
    UK
    English.
    I have seen "male (sic) toilet" and, of course, "female (sic) toilet".

    I have also heard the term "(shit)pot" used by working class people and also by the landed gentry, both groups being totally unconcerned about "correctness" or "polite sensibilities".

    Use the expression in "middle class" company though and one would never be invited back.
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    On public signs pointing to the facilities, restroom(s) is the most common label, but bathroom is occasionally used. It would be very rare to find washroom on a label or sign. In my area, the most common label (on doors) for bathrooms is Ladies/Gentlemen, but you often see Men/Women, too. People who are used to seeing homogenized, English-only signage in the US would probably be surprised by the number of restrooms that are also labeled Damas/Caballeros (Spanish for Ladies/Gentlemen) in our area, as well.
    You would be universally understood, here, if you asked where the bathroom or restroom is. My own least favorite dysphemism for bathroom is pisser.

    Finally, Dmitry, if someone says they are going to the bathroom, it is commonly understood that the person is going to relieve him/herself (and wash up, afterwards), unless s/he has said specifically that s/he is going to take a bath or shower. Oh, and I know it is common to bathe on odd-numbered days in many parts of Europe ;), but most people in the US shower or bathe daily.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Ok. My question is similar to that in post #65: how do you distinguish the meanings? "Restroom", as far as I understand, may imply not only "toilet" but a place for relaxaing and having entertainment.
    A restroom in the U.S. is not a room for relaxing and entertaining. :) That may have been its origin, but it is not its meaning now. It is a bathroom. In some theatres and cultural buildings it may include a lounge where women may rest on a couch or in chairs. (I think I have only seen a few men's lounges in my life.) In no case is it a place for entertaining.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "Restroom", as far as I understand, may imply not only "toilet" but a place for relaxaing and having entertainment.
    If I were in a restaurant, or theater, or department store, and I saw a sign that said "Restrooms this way", I would never, ever understand that to mean anything other than "this way to the rooms that have toilets, urinals, and sinks." I certainly would not understand it to mean "this way to a place for relaxing and having entertainment".
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    JamesM is exactly right--going to the bathroom in the U.S. usually means going to the toilet. There's another fun term sometimes used, "I'm going to go powder my nose." That means, usually, that you are going to the toilet, but can also mean that you want to do almost anything, in private--like stand in a stall and text your other boyfriend. It can mean that you want to touch up your make-up...but mostly it is tongue-in-cheek to mean you're hitting that toilet we just can't mention in the U.S.

    Dmitry--Your question reminds me that I have occasionally seen the title "Ladies lounge" used for a luxury restroom with a seating area. Other than that, no, you have no way of knowing if it's a simple toilet or if there is a chair or two. Unfortunately, a seating area in a restroom is very rare...I've only seen them in fancy restaurants and five-star hotels.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    And, James, if we're talking about signs on doors?
    This thread is moving quickly. :) Here is what I said earlier about my impression of what is found on signs:

    The sign directing you to the location of the rooms would say "restroom", but for the actual sign on the door, I would expect to see the international symbols in any public place and the word "men" under the symbol for a man and "women" for the word under the symbol for a woman.

    I haven't read through the entire thread carefully so I may be repeating someone else, but in the U.S. "toilet" brings to mind the actual fixture you sit on, not the whole room.
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Oh my goodness, we've forgotten the old-fashioned term "powder room."

    Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's routinely asked her dates for money to go to the powder room, presumably to tip the matron. But her dates gave her big bills, and she never gave them change. Nice to be young and beautiful.

    These days, no one says powder room unless they deliberately mean to be humorous.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    . People who are used to seeing homogenized, English-only signage in the US would probably be surprised by the number of restrooms that are also labeled Damas/Caballeros (Spanish for Ladies/Gentlemen) in our area, as well.
    .
    Now that you mention it, this is very common in our area as well, especially in department stores.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    if (as noted above) there are two signs pointing in different directions, "ladies room" and "men's room."

    Embonpoint
    You would actually see rooms mentioned - ie not just women/ladies/female and men/gents/male?

    And if I said, 'Can you tell me where the gents is?', that wouldn't be understood?
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Natkretep--

    It could be possible to have a sign which said only "ladies" or "gentlemen."

    If you ask for the "ladies" or the "gents" it would be understood but possibly read as foreign.

    p.s. Nat, I've heard "the ladies" but don't remember from who. Could have been an American from a different class or region than my own, or a Britisher. For me, at least, if I heard that I'd think, "hmmm...where are they from?"
     
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    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    If you ask for the ladies' room in England, you'll be directed to the loo, no questions asked, unless you're a man, of course... ;)

    Cloaca (sewer) and cloak are not related, they come from different Latin words, i.e. cloaca/clocca. They just look similar.

    In any case, I find it amusing that discussions about words for basic human activities attract such great interest. Is there a similar thread for the (mainly American) expression of sleeping together while staying wide awake? ;) I've always found that an interesting ability... :D

    /Wilma
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    If you ask for the ladies' room in England, you'll be directed to the loo, no questions asked, unless you're a man, of course... ;)
    You would - but only because we would guess what you meant. We don't use (well in my experience) the terms "men's room" or "ladies' room". We just say "where's the men's/ladies' please?" I'm not even sure what it is short for (I would have guessed "toilet") - but if we once said "men's room" we don't use the longer phrase today.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    We just say "where's the men's/ladies' please?" I'm not even sure what it is short for (I would have guessed "toilet")
    If 'gentlemen' and 'ladies' originally referred to people of a certain social class, rather than just polite terms for men and women, I would imagine the full terms would be gentlemen's lavatory and ladies' lavatory if we remember that 'lavatory' or 'loo' are U terms, whereas 'toilet' is non-U.

    Here's wikipedia on U and non-U.

    Nat
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    If 'gentlemen' and 'ladies' originally referred to people of a certain social class, rather than just polite terms for men and women, I would imagine the full terms would be gentlemen's lavatory and ladies' lavatory if we remember that 'lavatory' or 'loo' are U terms, whereas 'toilet' is non-U.

    Here's wikipedia on U and non-U.

    Nat
    What a fascinating list:thumbsup:. I have lots and lots to say on that (some agreeing, some disagreeing, some nuancing to my understanding of this phenomenon that I have been made well aware of in my life) - but it's off topic here (this definitely deserves its own thread). I'll just note that yes - "lavatory" or "loo" are the posher version of "toilet" in that mentality. It's extremely interesting (I think) that often the "U" version is not (in fact, more often is not) the form that you would think is the posh one (the more latinate version). It's all about people who are comfortable enough in their expression not to feel the need to "prettify" their expression and those who either feel the need to or do not realise that some people think they have.

    Now where did I put my napkin? I've spilt my pudding down the sofa with the enjoyment of reading that.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    You would - but only because we would guess what you meant. We don't use (well in my experience) the terms "men's room" or "ladies' room". We just say "where's the men's/ladies' please?" I'm not even sure what it is short for (I would have guessed "toilet") - but if we once said "men's room" we don't use the longer phrase today.
    Interesting...! I spent four years of the '80s in the London area asking strangers for the ladie's room (using 'loo' with friends), and not a single person seemed to protest, which is why I (perhaps mistakenly) drew the conclusion that this was a common phrase. Instead, I should probably have drawn the conclusion that the English are too polite to tell a stranger/foreigner the proper term to ask for! :D

    The U/non-U issue is also very interesting, and it's definitely worth a topic of its own, if there isn't one already. I'm vaguely familiar with the 'posh English' accent, although I'm incapable of imitating it myself, but I didn't know about the vocabulary issue.

    /Wilma
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    ...And this explanation:

    The word toilet itself may be considered an impolite word in the United States... the word toilet is often substituted with other euphemisms... such as:...

    shit-house

    EVA.
    I edited down the list you provided. I would suggest that "shit-house" as a "polite" euphemism for "toilet" might get someone in trouble. (There were some others that were nearly as bad.)

    I wonder how often Cambridge's Advanced Learner dictionary has gotten non-native speakers in trouble.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Interesting...! I spent four years of the '80s in the London area asking strangers for the ladie's room (using 'loo' with friends), and not a single person seemed to protest, which is why I (perhaps mistakenly) drew the conclusion that this was a common phrase. Instead, I should probably have drawn the conclusion that the English are too polite to tell a stranger/foreigner the proper term to ask for! :D
    Well - it's immediately understandable, so presuming that you have a slight accent people would probably just assume that you were using an English term learnt from a different variety of English such as American.

    If I heard a fellow Brit say that I probably wouldn't question/correct it either, but I think it would stand out and I'd probably conclude they'd been watching too much American TV recently;).
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Well - it's immediately understandable, so presuming that you have a slight accent people would probably just assume that you were using an English term learnt from a different variety of English such as American.

    If I heard a fellow Brit say that I probably wouldn't question/correct it either, but I think it would stand out and I'd probably conclude they'd been watching too much American TV recently;).
    OK, so in John Le Carré's world, I would have been caught out by the MI5 as a foreign spy... :D

    I wonder how often Cambridge's Advanced Learner dictionary has gotten non-native speakers in trouble.
    The online version doesn't even include shit-house, and the word shit itself is marked as offensive everywhere, so I wouldn't worry too much.

    /Wilma
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ... is going to the bathroom without adding any further information. In BE, by the way, it means that he is going to take a shower and wash himself (probably, including the cleaning of teeth, shaving and some other regular things, which are done every day or several times a week).
    ...
    Not so.
    As others said above, someone going to the bathroom for those purposes would say what they were going for. A visit to the bathroom, with no further context or comment, is a visit to the toilet.
    Ok. My question is similar to that in post #65: how do you distinguish the meanings? "Restroom", as far as I understand, may imply not only "toilet" but a place for relaxaing and having entertainment.
    I don't know of any use of "restroom" to mean a place for relaxing and having entertainment.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    (Quoting the Cambridge Advanced Learners' Dictionary): When referring to the room or the actual piece of equipment, the word toilet is often substituted with other euphemisms (and dysphemisms) such as:

    ....
    I'm surprised the word latrine does not figure in the list. I was also surprised to find out that it's also used as a sign on a door. Here's a picture showing the sign 'male latrine' from Texas. Is this 'normal' in the US?
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I'm surprised the word latrine does not figure in the list. I was also surprised to find out that it's also used as a sign on a door. Here's a picture showing the sign 'male latrine' from Texas. Is this 'normal' in the US?
    You might expect to find that in military or Boy Scout camps. There certainly wouldn't be a 'female latrine' as far as know.:D
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    <<... response to deleted post ...>> the term used is actually "female latrine", just as one will find "male locker rooms" or "female locker rooms" in the facilities of various institutions.
     
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    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Why? A latrine is a structure built for the purpose of defecation and urination and for the sanitary control of wastes. There is no absolutely no implication that there will be running water, a place to wash up, or other niceties. It is entirely appropriate for the facilities one encounters during military service, regardless of the situation...
     

    phredd

    New Member
    English - USA
    Well, I was looking for the origin of restroom attendants, and ended up here. (My son was asking about them)
    After reading thru all theses post, they reminded me of when I was young about the words used for “restrooms”. The first time, my family was out camping, and we went on a long hike. I was very tired at the end, and was overjoyed when I saw a building that said restroom on it. I of course, was thinking that there would be a place to lay down and take a “rest”. I was very disappointed when I went in there.
    The next time, was my very first day of elementary school. During the day, my teacher said that we were all going to the lavatory, which in my mind, I heard laboratory. I thought that we were going to do stuff like mixing chemicals up and stuff like that. Again, I was very disappointed when I went in there. I also made the mistake of mentioning this to the teacher, who thought it was funny, and so she had to write both words on the chalk board so the whole class could join in the fun! I am now 45 years old, but remember that morning like it was yesterday, pretty sad I guess.
    Anyways, I guess this confusion was all due to the fact, that at home, we called it the bathroom, and that was all I knew as.
    BTW, we had a cloak room in the same school, and that is where we hung our coats, and put our winter boots and lunches.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    <Non-English versions of the term deleted.> I don't know why people get so bent out of shape about this topic anyway. Americans are hardly the only nationality that uses vaguely euphemistic but widely understood terms. I would classify "loo"and "lavatory" and "WC" as being just as euphemistic as "restroom."

    I was visiting someone in Beijing once who spoke very little English. I wanted to use the toilet and tried about four different ways of asking where it was,with little success. Finally her face brightened and she said "Ladies room?" which was not one of the terms I had thought of trying.
     
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    Swinky

    New Member
    English-English
    So once again the question arose about the origin of the euphemism, "Restroom". Upon researching it, coming across this thread in the process, perhaps this might be an answer:

    In posh toilets, there used to be a "resting" area off from the "toilet" facilities area. These had sofas and chairs, tables and lamps. The phrase is Victorian in origin and the couches etc. were for the tightly-corseted ladies to recline on for a 'rest' before having to go out again into the theatre, restaurant, department store or whichever public place they were at. There was an attendant who kept the place clean and was tipped or paid by the users.

    The word "toilet" itself used to refer to the the act or process of dressing and grooming oneself, from earlier times, eg she performed her morning toilet, and not to the act of bodily waste evacuation.

    Terms and terminology change over time.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Toilet" in that sense still survives in American English when we refer to makeup, perfume, toothpaste and other items as "toiletries". However, "toilet" in AE brings to mind the porcelain bowl and tank, very specifically. In a period novel "performing her daily toilet" would make sense, but I have never heard anyone use it in American English in my lifetime other than as a cute reference to antique language in the same way someone might say "I am off to perform my morning ablutions" to mean "I'm going to go wash up now".
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I hope to be able to provide an actual source in a day or so, but I know I've read somewhere fairly authoritative that one of the ways the term "restroom" came to be used in AmE is that there used to be no place for a respectable woman to relieve herself when on a visit to town - say, if she came with her husband to go to the general store or something like that. Nor was there any place to, for example, take your 4-year-old to urinate or to take your baby if you needed to breastfeed it. In cities, there were department stores with ladies rooms, but these weren't usually available in smaller towns. Men could go to saloons and bars, but nice women couldn't and neither could girls. So the "rest room" was a public facility (I think - I'm not sure but I believe I've read this - that some of the early ones in the Midwest were actually maintained by farm organizations) that gave a woman a respectable place to go when on a visit to town - a place where she could urinate, sure, but also, you know, just generally tidy up, see to her children - or rest, if you will. It was called a "rest room" instead of a "toilet" because there were facilities there for other things besides the elimination of waste.

    I agree with James that in AmE, toilet is used almost exclusively to refer to the bowl and tank. There's nothing particularly indelicate about it - I mean, I wouldn't bat an eye if a friend wanted to talk about what color toilet to get in her new bathroom or an acquaintance told a story about how his toilet broke New Year's Eve - but generally speaking, the only thing that word refers to for me is the bowl and tank.
     
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    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    "Toilet" in that sense still survives in American English when we refer to makeup, perfume, toothpaste and other items as "toiletries". However, "toilet" in AE brings to mind the porcelain bowl and tank, very specifically. In a period novel "performing her daily toilet" would make sense, but I have never heard anyone use it in American English in my lifetime other than as a cute reference to antique language in the same way someone might say "I am off to perform my morning ablutions" to mean "I'm going to go wash up now".
    This is the source of the term "toilet water," a rather weak perfume, the name of which caused me enormous confusion as a child.

    II agree with James that in AmE, toilet is used almost exclusively to refer to the bowl and tank. There's nothing particularly indelicate about it - I mean, I wouldn't bat an eye if a friend wanted to talk about what color toilet to get in her new bathroom or an acquaintance told a story about how his toilet broke New Year's Eve - but generally speaking, the only thing that word refers to for me is the bowl and tank.
    I agree. In BrE, "I'm going to the toilet" means "I'm going to go to the room where the toilets are." In AmE, "I'm going to the toilet" usually means "I'm sitting on it right now."
     

    HnB'ed

    Member
    You mean "I'm in the toilet," not "i'm going to the toilet," means "i'm sitting on it right now," right? However, if you say "i'm going to the toilet," you envision the toilet bowl, not the room where it's located. Did I get that right? As a subscription to what has previously been posted about the term "toilet," it indeed is a fact that the porcelain bowl is referred to as such in AE. In the same way, I've often heard Americans calling "toilet room" the enclosed area where the toilet is located in a hotel private bathroom.
     
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