Where does the term "restroom" come from? It surely can't have anything to do with resting.

The first time I landed at a US airport I was actually so confused about this that I thought that the "Restroom →" signs were showing the way to the waiting hall.

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  • 1
    Have you tried to Google it? What does it say and what is it that you don't understand? – user140086 Jun 19 '16 at 21:48
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    Why can't it have anything to do with resting? People often do sit down there, even if the primary purpose is not to rest. It's just a euphemism. – sumelic Jun 19 '16 at 21:49
  • I was really expecting that "rest" would have a different meaning here, perhaps one unknown to me. – Curious George Jun 19 '16 at 22:09
  • You don’t have kids do you? ;-) – Jim Jun 19 '16 at 22:53


  • Of course no one wants to rest in the room containing the toilet; restroom is an obvious euphemism. Interestingly, English (like some other languages) can express the "toilet-room" concept only via indirect terms like this.


  • Originally meaning a public toilet, this seems to be of American origin, with the earliest usages found around 1900. It’s an extremely common usage, and also one of the vaguest. Rest of course has a number of meanings, but this is probably in the sense of "repose" or "refreshing oneself." A slight variation is retiring room, a lovely upper-class Briticism from the 1930s.

From Etymonline:

  • also rest-room, 1897, as a room with a toilet, from rest (n.1) + room. (n.).
  • 4
    Funnily enough there isn't a word for it that isn't a euphemism. – mgb Jun 19 '16 at 22:11
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    @mgb, you consider "the shitter" a euphemism? – The Photon Jun 20 '16 at 4:39
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    @ThePhoton - I hadn't allowed for Australians – mgb Jun 20 '16 at 12:46

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