At the very British-colonial Routledge primary school in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1950s we were given breaks to run off to the toilets or "arkees" (I am giving the word a phonetic spelling).

Later in life men from other Rhodesian towns told me the word was also used in their primary schools, but with unknown origin. In those days local teacher training was in one college where the word may have been introduced as a euphemism, although some teachers migrated from UK and South Africa.

I have also hypothesised that the word may have originated from an abbreviation of "restroom" in those days when keys were not plentiful and often hung on labelled boards under the watchful eye of a custodian ("R-keys"), from "Ah-keys" indicating relief, or perhaps from the Afrikaans baby word "Akkies" (poo or pooing).

Any thoughts before all Rhodesians, with the exception of ridgebacks, become extinct?

  • Your mention of an abbreviation for "restroom" sounds promising. Perhaps it's a 'kiddie' plural of "R"? "R"s sounds like the rear-end, so adding a k-sound might make it more acceptable, producing arkees. All pure conjecture at this point. – Lawrence Aug 5 '18 at 7:46
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    It's not clear: What is your question? – Hot Licks Aug 5 '18 at 11:58
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    @Hotlicks. The question seems relatively clear to me -- he's asking about the origin of the word 'akees' to mean toilets. – S Conroy Aug 6 '18 at 17:42
  • No, and did you notice that English "Ah-keys" would never be pronounced the same as Afrikaans "Akkies"? – Robbie Goodwin Aug 19 '18 at 23:28
  • There's an ackee fruit which a child's imagination might connect with a number 2, so to speak. 100% speculation. – S Conroy Sep 9 '18 at 21:21

The word 'restroom' could be translated into Dutch as 'rust kamer', hence 'RK' or 'ArKay'. If so, it could come from the West Germanic 'Afrikaan' settlers. Linguee

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