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Toilet talk: English vocabulary about (using) the bathroom Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in English Vocabulary

Today’s post is all about words and expressions that you aren’t likely to learn in a class; today we are going to talk about going to the bathroom! The vocabulary introduced today are words and expressions you will definitely hear native speakers use, and these are also words and expressions you may need to use sometime too.  So let’s get down to it, today is all about toilet talk!

Bathroom sign.

Here are some common expressions that English-speakers use to ask where the toilet is located.

“Where is the bathroom?”
“Can you tell me where the restroom is?
“Where is the lavatory?”
“Which way is the washroom?”
“I need to use the toilet, where can I find it?
“Where is the loo?” (British English)
“Can you point me to the WC?” (British English)

In English the bathroom can also be called: “the men’s room” (for men), “the women’s room” (for women), and sometimes people also say “the little boy’s room” (for men) and “the little girls’ room” (for women). For example:

“Can you tell me where the little girl’s room is?”

All of the above expressions are neutral in nature (not too formal or informal) and appropriate to use in public at anytime to ask where the bathroom is located.

Image "toilet" by dirtyboxface on Flickr.com.

Image “toilet” by dirtyboxface on Flickr.com.

The toilet, which is found in the bathroom, also has many names in English.  Here is a list of some of these names. How these words are used is in (parentheses).

toilet (neutral)
commode (formal)
potty (childish)
the pot (informal)
the throne (informal)
the chamber pot (old fashion)

Now, it is time to look at some vocabulary to talk about what happens in the bathroom, on the toilet. Below are two lists of words for our two bodily functions (pee and poop). I’ve listed these words generally in order from the most polite/formal words (at the top) to the least polite/informal words (at the bottom). I have indicated next to each word whether it is a noun or verb, its formality, or other important information. How the word is used is important information to know, so please take note. There are some examples for how these words can be used below.

pee
urine (n) / to urinate (v) – (formal)
number 1 (n) -(neutral/polite)
tinkle (n) – (polite/old fashion)
(to) pee (n & v) – (neutral, most common term)
pee-pee (n) – (childish)
wee-wee (n) – (childish)
(to) piss (n & v) – (informal)
(to) wizz (n & v) – (very informal)
to take a leak (v phrase) –  (very informal)

“I have to pee, where is the bathroom?”
“I’m going to take a leak, I’ll be right back.”
“My son peed on himself and I need to change his clothes.”
Mom: “Do you have to go number 1 or number 2?” Child: “Number 1.
“Someone pissed all over the sidewalk. Gross!”
“I went pee-pee in the potty.”
“The nurse checked to see if there was urine in the bed.”
“Do you have to tinkle?”

poop
to defecate (v) – (formal)
feces (n) – (formal)
stool (n) – (formal)
to have a bowel movement (v phrase) –  (formal)
bowel movement or BM (n) – (neutral)
number 2 (n) – (neutral/polite)
poop (n) – (neutral, most common)
poo (n) – (neutral/childish)
poo-poo (n) – (childish)
poopy (n & adj) – (childish)
doo-doo (n) – (childish)

(to) sh*t (n & v) – (very informal)
to take a dump – (v phrase) – (very informal)

“The old man defecated in his bed.”
“How often do you have a bowel movement?”
“I need to change my daughter’s poopy diaper.”
“Where can I take a dump around here?”
“I haven’t had a BM in 2 days.”
“I saw some feces in the bushes at the park.”
“You will have to provide a stool sample for testing.”

Learning this array of vocabulary for talking about bodily functions is important for a few reasons:
1) You may hear other people (especially native speakers) use these words and so it is good to know what they mean;
2) You want to use the right type of word for the right type of situation, and to do that you have to know a variety of ways to talk about your bodily functions; and
3) This is vocabulary building! There is more than one way to say almost everything and now you have many ways you can talk about a subject that is often hard to discuss.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


Comments:

  1. Duso Galvutes:

    Such a useful vocabulary foe using toilet or bathroom, I wonder why students usually are not teached this at school. Maybe because then we would miss many humorous situations!:)

    • Emily:

      @Duso Galvutes Such a useful vocabulary foe using toilet or bathroom, I wonder why students usually are not taught this at school. Maybe because then we would miss many humorous situations!:)

  2. Camb-Loos:

    This is one educational and entertaining post! Most terms are familiar while some are quite new like that of the little boy and the little girl’s rooms. Will apply these next time. Thank you!

  3. Susan:

    Why do we call going #1 for peeing and #2 for pooping

    • Gabriele:

      @Susan I don’t have a good answer for that question really – it’s just what we do.

    • Muhammad:

      @Susan Saying poo or pee sounds inappropriate to say to other people.

  4. Eric Degbato:

    I’ve been looking for such vocabulary for a long time. Thanks for providing them.

  5. Jose Navarrete:

    Hi i once heard a little girl say ” were is the girl restroom i need to Evail my self please” well i hope i spelled that rite

  6. Bijan:

    Gabriele, I believe it’s worth sharing this with you and your readers. You wrote SH*T to explain the meaning of the word SHIT as if it was a dirty word. Actually this word came about during the 1800s while the merchants of dry manor “used as fertilizer” were packing and shipping it via river boats or cargo ship to their buyers throughout the country. while the products were in transit below the deck due to moisture in the air the manor would generate methane gas that caused enormous explosions once someone would enter the cargo area with a lantern or a lit cigarette etc. Eventually the experts figured out the source of explosion and recommended the manor should be stored high up in the cargo area so the gas can immediately scape from below deck. In order for the shoreman to properly store the manor, they decided to mark the bundles with the word SHIT which meant Store High In Transit. So feel free to use it as you wish. It is not a dirty word.

  7. Grandma B:

    #2 meant that you had to do more than just #1 and would need to have the bathroom longer. That fact was good to know in a family of 7 and only one bathroom. It was possible that a #1 could squeeze in ahead of a #2.

  8. irfanullah khan:

    wow! Could find after leaving no stone unturned. Thank you

  9. Znj:

    I also use the expression “to do potty” for poop when I talk to my kids. Like “Do you want to do potty?” Doesn’t anyone else use this?

  10. Vaibhav:

    1. Could you provide some sentences using the aforementioned nouns, so that we would be able to use those sentences. I’m a non-native English speaker.
    2. Can we simply say “I’ve to go to washroom” I believed it’s very common, informal and formal as well as per my experience in India?

  11. Isaac Foh Lindsay:

    When a person goes to hospital he is call patients, stadium he is call fan or spectators what about a person who uses the toilet or washroom call thanks

  12. Paul Mendy:

    A person is a person but when he enters;
    ● In hospital he is called a patient
    ● In a taxi he is called a passenger
    ● At school he is a student.
    ● In stadium he is a fan

    Question, what is that person called when he enters a toilet??..

  13. Ann:

    One of my students is going to Ireland for summer camp. Do you have more UK terms for using the toilet and bathing? What about paper and sanitary products? Thanks.

  14. Raman Mishra:

    These all the toilet vocabs are really appreciable and knowledgeable.

  15. Rdismela:

    Could you please tell me how to say to someone who is knocking on the door, that I am using the restroom and he or she should get the message to wait.
    Thank you in advanced.

  16. Jacqueline:

    Very informative. .Thanks for sharing. .

  17. Shaimaa Emam:

    What about using the flush? How do Americans say sth like this? What are the expressions used for this?

  18. Emily:

    What is the noun for a person in the toilet?

  19. Dinah Muningirua:

    A Person is a person but when enters
    Hospital – Patient
    Taxi – Passenger
    Shop – Customer
    School – Student
    Stadium – Fan
    My Question is wat do we call a person who enters a toilet? Game on

  20. Teresa:

    What about “prairie doggin” or “pinch a log” or “drop the Cosby kids at the pool”?- all relating to going #2