By analogy with Portuguese tomar banho [de chuveiro/ducha], which along with tomar uma ducha/chuveirada (Br.)/duche (Port.) means, take a shower,

are there any parts of the English speaking world in which one can hear phrases like

take a bath

and/or bathe,

be commonly (not to say idiomatically) used to mean, take a shower, in such a way that the word shower in such regions is exclusively used to call the shower apparatus?


: to bathe oneself; take a bath or shower (emphasis is mine.)

Webster's New World College Dictionary


a washing or immersion of something, especially the body, in water, steam, etc., as for cleansing or medical treatment: I take a bath every day.

Random House

For example,

I was in the shower bathing/taking a bath when the telephone rang.

I bathe [=take a shower] every day, but I can't seem to remember the last time I took a bath.

  • 1
    I've never heard anyone (not even American) say anything like Would you like to bathe before dinner? - it's take a bath or take a shower (or maybe wash [up], but I generally understand that to mean hands and at most face, not whole-body ablution). Chez moi people routinely say they're going to have a bath or go to the bathroom when they're actually talking about the shower [room] (even though they know there's also a bath in a bathroom elsewhere in the house). Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 17:17
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    Are you saying that some native speakers say "take a bath", "bathe" or "bath" in place of "taking/having a shower"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 19:29
  • 2
    @Elian You have massively confused the question with your AmE/BrE interpolations. But the biggest confusion is the "[bath of]" in the last sentence, which introduces an ungrammaticality. Just ask the question already!
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 20:32
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers I feel sure some Americans talk about going to the bathroom before nipping behind a tree when out for a walk in the country.
    – WS2
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 23:22
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is asking users to read people's minds. It's impossible to know for certain if people mean "shower" when they say "bath".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


First off, in the US a bathroom is a place with a toilet and sink. The actual tub/shower is optional. (When selling homes the toilet-only room is called a "half bath" while the one with tub is a "full bath", and it's a "three-quarters bath" if it's got toilet and shower but no tub.) However, in businesses and other public buildings the toilet room is more commonly referred to as a restroom.

And even when the "facilities" are no more elaborate than a shed with pit underneath it, the typical American English speaker may very well refer to it as "the bathroom" out of habit, though in this case the term "toilet" is more apt to be used.

When describing his intent to bathe his entire body, the typical American English speaker would say he was going to "take a bath". If he intended to shower only, he might instead express that qualification by saying he was going to "take a shower". It's vaguely possible he might express an intent to "bathe", but that's a rather quaint way to say it.

If the typical American English speaker needed to perform an excretory function he would say he needed to "go to the bathroom" (possibly substituting some euphemism for "bathroom"), or, particularly before/after a meal, he might say he needed to "wash up". And it would not be unusual for a host to courteously ask if a guest would like to "wash up" before a meal (or perhaps simply after arriving in the house following a lengthy journey). On re-reading this it occurs to me that "use the bathroom" would be more idiomatic (and slightly more polite) than "go to the bathroom", since "go" implies excretion while "use" is more ambiguous.

(But note that these are "typical American English" terms, and it's entirely possible that different terms are used in West Boston or some such, as is common with domestic terms.)

  • In England, if a host invited you to "wash up" it would seem as if they were asking you to wash the dishes before the meal! "Wash up" or "Do the washing up" is the normal expression for washing the dishes over here.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 14:57

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