What's a single word that covers the actions of both defecation and urination.

Perhaps a person is stuck in a jungle and would like to go behind a tree or a bush to [either defecate or urinate, or both.] Is there a single word that could replace this action?

How would you describe that when you don't know what is happening?

"Going to the bathroom" doesn't sound correct here because it's a jungle.

"Excretion", "evacuation" or "voiding" seem to be related, but they feel too medical or scientific for my use.

  • 5
    You need to say what the context is. You have provided a number of possibilities without explaining why they are not suitable. Please edit your question to show what you actually need.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 3, 2023 at 13:04
  • 4
    You still haven't said how this will be used. In a book? In a conversation? Please follow all the advice given in the help for this tag. For what it's worth, "He disappeared behind a tree for a moment or two" is eminently understandable!
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 3, 2023 at 15:47
  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on English Language & Usage Meta, or in English Language & Usage Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – tchrist
    Feb 9, 2023 at 0:17

4 Answers 4


Try eliminate (elimination):

eliminate v 4. Physiology To excrete (bodily wastes).
TFD Online

This covers both "bases", so to speak.

  • 2
    This word may work in some contexts, but if in an informal setting that the OP seems to have I mind, if one said 'excuse me, I need to eliminate', that would probably trigger puzzled looks and the question 'eliminate what from what?'.
    – jsw29
    Feb 8, 2023 at 23:26
  • You still have to add an object, "eliminate" what? Excuse me, my body is strongly recommending that I eliminate urine and faeces from my gastrointestinal system.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 9, 2023 at 9:14
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA: It's a "crappy" question, and I did my best. ;-)
    – Robusto
    Feb 9, 2023 at 14:53

There is no single unambiguous word that covers both defecation and urination when a person is in the jungle.

So… we might say I need to go (urgently) or I have to find a bush i.e the equivalent of a rest room/toilet/lavatory/loo/bog.

  • @jsw29 did someone prevent the commenter from posting their comment as an answer? This answer, which is based on good old common sense, is not copied because I had already thought the question was describing a pretty absurd situation. This is my response.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 11, 2023 at 19:45
  • @jsw29 funny because when I read This has already been posted by another contributor as a comment it seems that I shouldn't have posted the answer because someone else had already suggested it. Maybe two or more people can have the same "answer" without having to check every comment? And castigating not one but two users for posting "to relieve oneself" because a comment by Kate Bunting attracted a couple of upvotes is hardly conducive to constructive help. The users were free to cite their source or maybe, just maybe, they came up with the same idea? Can you prove otherwise?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 12, 2023 at 15:10
  • @jsw29 I don't mind at all since I was the person who posted it in comments, I believe. This is one of those things I really hate about the site posting rules: How can one expect to find authorities on "having to go"? Hm? I'm as much an authority on that type of thing as any other native speaker...
    – Lambie
    Feb 14, 2023 at 21:00

relieve oneself

to urinate or defecate

Exercise is obviously important, and relieving oneself is even farther up the list as an essential.

Not truly a single word, but a single dictionary entry, nonetheless (FWIW).

And it should be noted that there seems to be some discord between dictionaries as to whether it indeed connotes either of the two actions or not.

M-W limits the definition to urinating.

MacMillan seems to agree with Collins.

Is that a relief?

  • 1
    This has already been posted by another contributor as a comment, while the question was closed, which made posting it as an answer impossible. After the question was reopened the answer was posted by yet another contributor, who then courteously withdrew the answer to allow the original author to post it as an answer. The author of this answer, however, probably wasn't aware of the answer's having been posted before, because the comments below the question have been indiscriminately moved away from this page.
    – jsw29
    Feb 11, 2023 at 17:26
  • @jsw29 I was not aware of all this precedent. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Should I now proceed to delete my answer, as well?
    – m.a.a.
    Feb 12, 2023 at 10:04
  • I have no special authority to tell you what to do, but for whatever my opinion is worth, the contributor who originally posted this answer as a comment has by now had a chance to get involved and chose not to, which should make it unproblematic for others to incorporate her comment into their answers (although an acknowledgement would still be courteous). That still leaves it regrettable that the contribution of the person who posted the answer in between has been lost. One diplomatic solution may be to change the status of the answer to a wiki, but there is no rule requiring you to do that.
    – jsw29
    Feb 12, 2023 at 17:42

Notwithstanding the OP's explicit rejection of that option, go to the bathroom is readily usable for this purpose among speakers of American English. Using the phrase in a jungle, as in the OP's example, may strike people from outside the U.S. as absurd, but it is not any more absurd than using it for what one does in a public lavatory, without any facilities for bathing, which is standardly done in the U.S. If one is habituated to using and hearing this phrase as a general euphemism for defecating-or-urinating, regardless of where the action is actually performed, it is unlikely that one would find it strange to hear it used under the circumstances that the OP describes.

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