Public Restroom Terminology – US


Words often confuse WOEFULTOURIST, especially when a number of different ones are used to describe the very same thing.  Even worse is the situation when the terminology used doesn’t adequately describe the things they are supposed to.

Take for example something that every traveler has utilized at some place and time –  namely, a public “restroom”.  He doesn’t know about you, but WOEFULTOURIST has never found public facilities to be “restful” in any way, shape or form.

A “relief” to be sure, but “restful”, never.

Similarly, “bathroom” is often used in place of “restroom” yet that too is a poor definition in his opinion.  After all, not a single public bathroom that WOEFULTOURIST has ever been in has ever included an actual bath.

As for the “know-it-all’s” out there who say that the “bath” in “bathroom” actually refers to “bathe”, WOEFULTOURIST has a simple question for you.  “If that’s the case then why isn’t it called a “bathe”-room, smarty pants!”

While he recognizes the importance of washing ones hands after using the facilities, that is certainly not the main reason one goes there.

The term “men’s” room implies some elite club wherein men lounge about in smoking jackets, relaxing in leather covered chairs as they puff away on Romeo y Julieta’s while they read that days Wall Street Journal.  Clearly that is not a fair reflection of what really happens in public men’s rooms.

Lavatory sounds way too clinical, as if staff wearing white lab coats, as well as surgical masks and gloves are performing strange experiments within the space.

The term “powder”room no longer gets much usage, but did at one time.  For the life of him, WOEFULTOURIST can’t understand why anyone would want to store their gunpowder in the same room that they did number 1 and 2.  That would seem like the last place to store anything!  Then, again, that might have been the whole point.

Since none of the existing terms seem to adequately define exactly what one does in that particular space, WOEFULTOURIST took it upon himself to come up with an alternative that he felt was more appropriate.

Namely, the “poop-pee-and-wash-station”.

In order to facilitate the general usage of his new term, WOEFULTOURIST contacted a government bureaucrat he knew to find out what necessary paperwork was required to get his new term to receive official government approval and funding.

What he learned made his heart sink.

Apparently in the 1980’s the US Bureau of Standard Terminology looked into the prospect of using the term “poop place” to describe public rest room facilities.

However, when they approached focus groups to gauge their interest in the name change 12.5 % of the adult respondents found the term “poop” to be offensive.  Since this exceeded the 10 % maximum offensive acceptability level, the word “poop” was forever banned for usage in any official government capacity.

A curious sidebar to the survey found that 37.5 % of those same adult respondents said they still sleep with the light on so that they can keep the monsters that are under the bed, at bay.

As so many things are, WOEFULTOURIST’s hopes of coining a more appropriate term for “public restroom” that would gain nationwide use, as well as the government’s official seal of approval proved to be nothing more than a poop dream (he apologizes after the fact to the 12.5% of you that will be offended by the term).


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Actor, writer and health inspector. I've been ensuring food safety and providing quality entertainment, for over two decades.
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