English In The Real World

Different Names for the Bathroom in English

As with many English words, some are common in American English and others are common in British English. However, words such as: bathroom, ladies room, men’s room and restroom are common to both. On most airlines, the toilet is referred to as “the lavatory”. You might hear the flight attendant say: “The lavatory is located at the back of the plane”.

In a formal setting, it would be polite to ask: “Excuse me, where can I find the ladies room?” or “Excuse me, could you show me where the restroom is?” or if you are at someone’s home: “Sorry, where’s the bathroom?” 

When you are with friends the setting is usually more informal. In these cases you can use words such as: the john (men), the can, the loo (ladies) and TP which means toilet paper. 

Tom: Hey, Sam. Where’s the john? 
Sam: It’s down the hall. 

Mary: Hi Sam. Where’s Tom? 
Sam: Oh, he’s in the can. 

Instead of telling everyone that she needs the toilet, a lady can say: “Excuse me, while I go powder my nose“. 

Of course, the most basic way to ask is: “Where’s the toilet?” However, there are many words for the toilet so choose the appropriate word according to your listener.

Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.


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