The Definitive List of Euphemisms for the Bathroom, Ranked

published Nov 21, 2016
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Like anything associated with bodily functions, the bathroom has garnered more than its fair share of nicknames, some euphemistic, some far more colorful. (The word ‘bathroom,’ when used to refer to the place where you use the toilet, is in itself a euphemism, implying that something far more delicate than eliminating is going on.) But not all of them are created equal. If you just can’t bring yourself to say you’re going to the bathroom, how should you refer to that charming space? Here are a few ideas, ranked in order (highly subjectively) from least to most acceptable.

Little boys’/Little girls’ room

C’mon. We’re all adults here.


Also offensively juvenile. Do you have to tinkle?


Does anyone actually say this? I once had a roommate from Louisiana who called the refrigerator the “icebox,” so I suppose it’s possible.


Not a euphemism, really more like— what’s the opposite of a euphemism? Still, appreciably direct and to the point.


A milder version of shitter that might still conjure up some unpleasant images.


Somehow has a strangely British feel. And seems much more acceptable, maybe because it refers to #1 and not #2.


Delicate, certainly, if a little old-fashioned.

The Can

Not socially acceptable, but has a certain rustic charm.

The John

To be named John means to have one’s name associated with the toilet, a man who solicits a prostitute, and this ridiculous character from a Disney movie. That is rough.


You can probably only get away with this one if you’ve been gifted with a British accent.


Strangely formal.

Old house down the lane

I have never heard anyone say this but Chris Phillips swears it is a thing. If I ever heard anyone say this I would think they were utterly bizarre. Charming, but bizarre.

Ladies’ room/Mens’ room

At least we’re talking about adults now. Asking the location of the ladies’ room (or even just “the ladies'”) does strike me as something an older southern woman would do. (See also: powder room.)


Nicely meta. “Martha, won’t you show her where we keep the euphemism?”


Perfectly acceptable, although it does conjure up images of highway rest stops.

“The Facilities”

I like this one in that it makes you do a little work.


“Water closet” is already vague enough, and by only pronouncing the initials you are rendering your meaning more obscure still. This is either the height of refinement or the height of annoyance, depending on who you’re talking to. Or you could just say you’re going to the bathroom… or just vaguely excuse yourself and carry the mystery farther still.

What’s your favorite way to refer to the loo—er, “the facilities”?