Jul 24, 2009
The other day my friend said to me, “Excuse me for a second while I go toilet to brush my teeth.” I thought to myself, “Gee, I hope you’re not actually brushing your teeth in the toilet water!” This statement got me thinking – when did the nouns “toilet” and “bathroom” become interchangeable? Besides the obvious reason that the toilet is located in the bathroom, there are still plenty of cases where one says ,”I’m going to the toilet” when all he is doing is shaving, fixing his hair, or brushing his teeth. So why in the world would one then reference or define this room by its most unpleasant feature?
Your guess is as good as mine, but this got me thinking. What other names do people refer to that sacred room by? According to bathroom historian Frank Muir, the toilet and/or the outhouse have at one time or another been called:
• “House of Honor” – the ancient Israelite
• “House of the Morning” – the ancient Egyptians
• The “garderobe” – literally “cloakroom”
• The necessarium/the necessary house
• The reredorter – literally “the room at the back of the dormitory”
• The privy/ the private place
• The jake/ the john
• The loo – mostly Europe/U.K.
• The W.C. (for water closet) – mostly Europe/UK
• Room 100 – mostly Europe
• The lavatory
• The closet of ease
• The Throne
• Countless other nouns
Who would’ve thought? The reredorter? The House of Morning? I guess the “toilet” makes more sense afterall…
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