By "toilet" I'm speaking of the thing upon which someone does their "business" -- commode, throne, W.C., etc. Every synonym I can find is somehow a euphemism (as is "toilet", of course). And the same appears to be true (with the possible exception of "shithouse") for "toilet" when used to mean "rest room".

Are there any specific terms which are not simply euphemisms (and didn't start as euphemisms) but specifically refer to the appliance or room?

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    @DecapitatedSoul That just means a small room with a water supply! Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 9:05
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    You've posted the non-euphemism yourself: shithouse. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 9:44
  • @WeatherVane - I noted that as a possible exception.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 13:07
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    I'm not sure that any exists. Toilet is itself a euphemism, deriving from a diminutive form of a French word for cloth, adopted for such use due to the association with shaving. Meanwhile, the plumbing fixture represented by this term is an adaptation of a chamber pot, which also has no particular non-euphemistic representation in language.
    – brainchild
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 14:51
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    Given that it is possible that some people do not perceive toilet as much of a euphemism any more, it might be better to formulate the question as: is there any word for this entity that did not start out as a euphemism? Also, as the question itself lists one dysphemism for it, what is really being asked is: is there any word for it that started out as neither a euphemism nor a dysphemism?
    – jsw29
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 22:30

4 Answers 4


Lavatory and latrine are synonyms of toilet which aren't euphemisms.

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    c. 1300, laterin "a privy," probably from Latin latrina, latrinum, a contraction of lavatrina "washbasin, washroom," from lavatus, past participle of lavare "to wash"
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 3:38
  • Latrine yes, lavatory no - that's strictly a wash room, so it's like the 'bathroom' euphemism. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 9:50
  • Yes, but compared to 'commode', and 'throne', it isn't much of a euphemism.
    – user405714
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 12:09
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    A latrine is specifically a communal toilet, especially one that is not a plumbing fixture. It is not appropriate when referring to a residential setting.
    – brainchild
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 14:55
  • If "toilet" and "w.c." are euphemisms, or originated as euphemisms, then lavatory is also.
    – The Photon
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 3:03
  • Piss pot
  • The shitter
  • The can
  • The pot
  • The bog
  • Urinal
  • Pissoir
  • In Australia, a dunny. Also a crapper, named after the inventor of the flush toilet. In England, a loo.
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 9:01
  • @Peter Thomas Crapper was an English sanitary engineer, so here too. We have a variety of terms for the "bog". Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 13:12
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    Of course, "urinal" and "pissoir" do not refer to the appliance you sit on.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 13:12
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    @WeatherVane US Navy also. It refers to the time of sailing ships when the toilet was located at the front of a ship. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 13:25
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    @jsw29, I think the meaning is pretty obvious even if you don't know French.
    – The Photon
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 23:35

Because of its Latin origins, I would suggest latrine (n.) from etymon online:

c. 1300, laterin "a privy," probably from Latin latrina, latrinum, a contraction of lavatrina "washbasin, washroom," from lavatus, past participle of lavare "to wash" (from PIE root *leue- "to wash") + -trina, suffix denoting "workplace." The word's reappearance in 1640s probably is a re-borrowing from French. In modern use, especially of a public privy of a camp, barracks, college, hospital, etc.

The idea of washing is accurate, there is simply no note of what part of your body - as a Roman - you will be washing with your sponge on a stick dipped in vinegar, and this is fair enough - nouns often do not suggest the whole idea.

Added to this, there was usually some water around to cleanse any mess, so it would not be unreasonable to have “wash” in some form as a general function to be performed within the room – not simply the anus.

The other point is philosophical – whichever current term is the earliest recorded or has the longest pedigree should be accepted as the non-euphemistic one. I suggest that it is not possible to have a word that is only expressed by euphemisms, as a euphemism has to relate to something.

  • Still, it means wash. Commented Mar 28 at 22:55
  • @JanKyuPeblik - well it certainly used to refer to wash - meanings change over time
    – Greybeard
    Commented Mar 29 at 9:50
  • Sure, but still arguably a euphemism in such case. Commented Apr 3 at 2:51

‘Loo’ derives from ‘l’eau’ meaning water. Americans, to be polite, say ‘bathroom’. I’d hate to bathe in that! The medieval garderobe only refers to the custom of putting the best clothes in that room set aside for human voiding as it (supposedly) deterred moths, thus guarding ones robes. ‘As if mothballs aren’t stinky enough!). Elizabethans had the ‘room of easement’. I wonder if that is what Ms Rowling had in mind when inventing the room of requirement in Harry Potter novels. As for me, no ‘visiting my auntie’ or coy silliness. I go pee!

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    This doesn't actually answer the question.
    – alphabet
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 21:55

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