The word “toilet” derives from the French «toilette», which meant «dressing room». In the 19th century in the USA, toilet began to be associated with  the room where people get dressed, as well as being the place with the device that we now call ‘toilet’. Despite the fact that we all have to go there various times during the day, it isn’t very common in English to say ‘I have to go to the toilet’.

Indeed, as with many taboo words related to bodily functions, ‘toilet’ is typically replaced with more informal words and imaginative euphemisms. Some are more polite, while others are more common in certain countries. So, without further ado, here are some different ways to say you want to go to the toilet in English.

 

Other ways to say ‘Toilet’ in English

 

 

GO TO THE BATHROOM

This is probably the most common way to say ‘toilet’ in all English speaking countries. Bathroom as a euphemism for toilet originated in the US in 1920 , and was initially a source of confusion for British travellers.

 

THE RESTROOM

This is more common in the USA. In other English speaking countries people may be confused by restroom, and show you to a bedroom! The term was first used in the early 20th century, and refers to «rest» meaning to refresh oneself.

 

THE LOO

The ‘loo’ is very common in the UK & Ireland, and is a safe and polite way to say toilet. There are many theories about the origin of this word, but it is still an unsolved mystery!

 

THE JOHN

John as a term for toilet is more common in the US, and is fairly informal. You can check out the somewhat complicated origin of «John» in this link.

 

I HAVE TO PEE

This is an informal way of saying you have to use the toilet. Using the word ‘pee’, however,  could be considered a little impolite. “Pee» is simply a short form of «piss», and started in the 18th century when it stood for the first letter of «piss».

 

TAKE A PISS

This is informal, so use it only when around friends! To piss comes from the Vulgar Latin verb pissiare.

 

RELIEVE MYSELF

This is a polite euphemism for using the toilet, and is general used humorously.

 

 

NATURE CALLS

This usually refers to #1 and is considered to be very polite. This euphemism started to be used in spoken  and written form in the mid-18th century.

 

 

TAKE A LEAK

This is usually said by a male and is very informal and more ‘slangy’. To leak as in «to urinate» was initially used as a verb. Shakespeare, Henry IV, part 1., Act 2, Scene 1:

Why, they will allow us ne’er a jordan, and then we leak in your chimney; and your chamber-lie breeds fleas like a loach

POWDER MY NOSE

This would normally be said by a female, and is now rather outdated. This euphemism for toilet comes from the 1940s when powder room referred to a ladies’ toilet in a hotel or restaurant.

 

So, there you go! Next time you’re with a group of native speakers and need to go to the toilet, you can make your English sound more natural  by using some of the terms and expressions we’ve just seen. But remember to choose them carefully because some are ‘ruder’ than others!

And, by the way, our App makes for an excellent toilet companion! You can download it here for free on iOS or Android.