Toilet Nicknames | Why do they call it The John?

One quick scan of the internet and you can easily come up with 101 toilet nicknames. Perhaps someday we can look back and the Spaloo Bidet will be on the list as well. In the meantime have fun reading our shortlist of some of our favorite toilet nicknames and how they came to be.

The John: It is widely believed that one of the most common toilet nicknames “The John” is a reference to 16th century poet Sir John Harington. One of his most famous works was entitled “The Metamorphosis of Ajax” which makes mention of his invention, the first flush toilet. The term Ajax is a pun for the word Jakes, which at the time was common slang for a privy.

Crapper: Contrary to popular belief this has very little to do with a famous plumber named Thomas Crapper, who actually has several patents related to the plumbing industry. The term crapper is actually derived from the word crap which means excrement or defecate.

Latrine: This is a common term utilized in the military yet today. It is most likely from the Latin word latrina.

Lavatory: This term is still used around the world today to designate restrooms in public places. It is derived from the Latin word lavare which means to wash.

Privy: You may hear this term in Northern England and Scotland which is simply a short form of private place.

The Loo: A common term used by the British; the origin of the term “The Loo” is not known however it could possibly be from the French word for water, l’eau. Another possibility is the word bordalou which is a portable privy, once carried by women.

The Head: This is a nautical term still in use today. Historically, most toilets were installed at the front of a boat, or the head of the vessel.

The Restroom: This is a common term used mainly in the USA for the bathroom itself.

The Can: This is in reference to some early 1900’s toilets that had a replaceable container located beneath the toilet seat.

The Throne: This was actually the nickname for a chamber pot and has carried over to the modern toilet.

The Outhouse: Most of us today are fortunate enough to have indoor plumbing, if you are really lucky you will have a Spallo Bidet as well. But your great-grandparents may have been forced outside to use a hole in the ground. Barns and toolsheds were called out buildings, hence the term Outhouse.

The Dunny: This is the Australian term for an outhouse. It is derived from the British term dunnekin which means dung house.

Water Closet Initially; bathtubs and toilets were in separate rooms. The bathroom contained the tub, while the toilet was in a tiny room called a water closet.