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A toilet is a device or construction for the disposal of bodily wastes, including urine, faeces and vomit. The word toilet can be used to refer to the toilet itself or the room containing it. The word comes from the French language, in which it also recalls the complex of the operations of body care, not only in bathroom. A piece of bedroom furniture is called toilette.

When referring to the room itself, in the United States the word toilet is often substituted with other euphemisms such as "bathroom", "restroom", "men's room", "ladies room", "ladies lounge" etc. In Canada, it is frequently referred to as a "washroom". In other countries, it may be called "water closet", "water chamber" or "W.C." Toilet is not considered a polite word in the US, probably because it reminds one of the malodorous and unhygienic aspect of it. In the United Kingdom the word toilet is the most commonly used word in speech, although the word lavatory is considered more polite. Lavatory is also the name used by airlines for airplane toilets. The UK also has many euphemisms (and dysphemisms) such as "bog", "cloakroom", "convenience", "gents", "khazi", "ladies", "loo", "necessary", "place of easement", "powder room", "privy", "shit-house" and "smallest room".

Public toilets may be free of charge, or be paid in one of the following ways:

  • put money on an unattended plate
  • put money in a box with a slot
  • put money in a slot of a turnstile or spring-door
  • give the money to personnel (who is also in charge of the cleaning)

Separation by sex is so characteristic of public toilets that pictograms which just show a man and a woman are used to indicate where the respective toilets are (for a picture see Pictogram). These pictograms are sometimes (e.g. in California) enclosed within standard geometric forms to reinforce this information, with a circle representing a woman's toilet and a triangle representing a man's.

The British word "loo" is said by some to come from "Gardy loo!" (a corruption of the French gardez l'eau! or "watch out for the water!") issued as a warning to passers by when the contents of chamber pots were thrown from upstairs windows, onto the streets below.

There are many different types of toilets around the world. There are also many different ways to clean yourself after you are finished using the toilet. A lot depends on national mores and local resources.

Some toilets are specially adapted for people with a disability and e.g. large enough to enter in a wheelchair.

In the West, the most common type of toilet is the flush toilet also known as a water closet (WC). However, there are many different types of toilet:

There is a "Toilets of the World" exhibit in the International Finance Center in Osakajo-koen, Osaka.

The taboo status of urination and defecation has led to the term "Toilet humour" being used to describe scatological humor.


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