Choosing what to call the public toilet

Choosing what to call the public toilet

Restroom vs bathroom vs mens room vs womens room vs toilet

There is something to be said for the correct use of language and words, and none are as important as how we refer to the room in which a commode is located.

For example, I don’t us the commode room for resting or napping. So ‘rest room’ doesn’t seem accurate. I do use this time for checking email or reading a quick magazine article, but I don’t think resting applies.

I also don’t use the commode room for bathing, especially when I’m in a public place. So ‘bathroom’ doesn’t seem to apply either.

Men’s room and women’s room — while accurate in the sense that they are rooms reserved by gender — don’t explain the fullness of use a commode room brings.

Although I’ve frequently used the word ‘commode’ here, I am not a big fan of this term of art either. The word commode comes from the French word for “convenient” or “suitable”, and has nothing to do with a toilet. The term “commode” is a rurally used 20th century synonym for a toilet in the States, and it isn’t used often nowadays.

My favorite is ‘toilet’.

It can be described accurately as a ‘Men’s toilet’ or a ‘Woman’s toilet’. You could broaden the use of the room by adding couches and then call the room a ‘Women’s toilet and rest room’. You could add a bathtub and call it a ‘Men’s toilet and bathing room’, which would be clearly understood — as an area with toilets and a place to take a relaxing bath. You could also go to lifestyle extreme and create a room that features toilets, couches and bathtubs; finding the need for a ‘Men’s toilet, rest area, and bathing room’. It sounds almost 1st century Roman. Sign makers would be fans of this, in addition to couch, tub and toilet makers.

My request is simply for you to join my band wagon and begin referring to places with toilets as what they really are: ‘Men’s Toilet’ and ‘Women’s Toilet’, freeing us from the tyranny of misunderstanding that arises from words that don’t truly describe what is really happening behind those hallowed doors.