The Loo or the Water Closet? What people call the bathroom around the world

2 min read

Everybody has need of the watercloset. No matter where you are in the world, at some point you'll need help finding your way to the space where you can do your business. There are a bevy of names for the water closet. Let’s take a look at what people around the world call the bathroom to that the next time you’re traveling abroad, you’ll have no problem finding the nearest one.

Lavatory

Nothing to do with hot lava, lavatory comes from the Latin lava, which means to wash. The room where you do most of your washing tends to include a toilet, and the term ended up sticking.

Loo

This one is quintessentially British. It’s possible that an early toilet manufacturer named their model the Waterloo, after the battle. It then ended up being shortened for convenience.

Bog

Another British creation, bog used to be slang for an open pit used to store human waste. There are not too many of those around these days, but bog is as popular as ever when referring to the toilet. The term has even been expanded to bogroll, which means toilet paper.

John

This is an American term for the toilet, although it is thought to have originated from a British man, Sir John Harrington. Sir John Harrington was a controversial writer in the 16th and 17th centuries and was said to have created the first flushing toilet (using a chain that released water from a water closet).

Crapper

Another American contribution, Thomas Crapper was an 18th-century British plumber who founded the successful sanitary equipment outfit Crapper and Co. No  really, he was a real person. American soldiers decided to humorously apply his name to the products, and we were left with the somewhat impolite crapper.

Dunny

This one is from Australia. Dunny is the word that was used for the outside toilet or outhouse. It came from the British word dunnekin or dung-house.

Comfort Room

This one is a gem from Philippino English. If you are in or around the Philippines and see “CR” on a door, now you know what to expect.

Privy

Used in Britain and America, this term originated in Scotland as an alternate word for private. Now it’s used in America when referring to outhouses.

Khazi or Karzy

These variations are seldom-used British words, originating from an 1800s Cockney word that meant privy, or sometimes brothel. It is now almost exclusively used in Liverpool.

Pissoir

A French word, it is used to refer to public urinals and comes from the word to urinate: pisser. Yes, it’s likely the unsavory English term came from this, too.

You Might Also Like:

Chat bubbles backgroundDaily QuestionWho can be described as avant-garde?

Start defining your knowledge

Get daily words and quizzes sent straight to your inbox!

By subscribing to Word Genius you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.