Why Is a Toilet Called a Restroom?

The restroom, like many other words, refers to a toilet; nevertheless, it is evident that people do not refer to a toilet as a toilet and instead have many various names for it; however, the question is why? And, mainly, why is a toilet referred to as a restroom? I’ll get to your query right away.

People claim that the term “toilet” sounds quite unpleasant, and they frequently hesitate to say it because they appear embarrassed by it. While there are many different names for toilets, the term “restroom” came from the fact that public toilet rooms once used to have seats and couches, leading to the name restroom.

Let’s continue reading to find out more about restrooms, alternative names for toilets, and their interesting origins.

What Is a Restroom?

A restroom is a large area with multiple sinks and a number of separate toilet stalls for individuals to use in public. You may even find sofas or seats to rest on in the restroom.

It is a room for rest, as the word “restroom” implies. The first word that springs to mind when you see the word rest is comfort. It is appropriate for this word to come to mind because the name “restroom” originated from public spaces that included comfortable sitting spots.

Restrooms can be found at restaurants, upscale theaters, shopping malls, schools, and even venues like; concert venues, amusement parks, nightclubs, sports venues, bars, etc.

The interesting point is that when the word “restroom” was first used, it had nothing to do with a toilet. It served only as a place for people who would get tired out in public to relax a bit. The term, however, has evolved over time and is currently used to refer to a room that houses sinks and toilets for a public restroom.

What Other Names Are There for Toilets, and How Are They Perceived?


Of course, a bathroom is the most common name for a toilet. As the name suggests, when the word first came into use, it meant a room with simply a bath or shower, but over time the connotation changed.

It would seem very strange to refer to a public restroom as a bathroom because the term originally exclusively indicated a bath, and you only take baths at home.

Bathroom- a room intended for baths evolved as a result of people trying to combine their toilet and sink in their bathroom to save space.

Even today, a bathroom is referred to as a room just for a bath or shower in British English, but in American English, the term refers to a space that includes a toilet, sink, and bath or shower as well.


In many countries, the term “washroom” is used to describe both residential and public toilet facilities that have a toilet and sink. Although people have turned it into one, the term initially did not refer to a room used as a toilet.

However, the original meaning, and in other countries, is that the washroom is room to wash. The fact that the word ‘wash’ implies bathing, or in other words, washing yourself, often leads people to confuse it with a bathroom. Nevertheless, bathrooms are for washing your hands or whatever, and some people even install washing machines in their bathrooms to make them completely wash spaces.


The terms latrine and lavatory may be familiar to you. These two words are derived from the Latin word ‘lavare’, which means to wash. Because the term from which they are derived evidently means to wash, the derived words also initially meant to clean oneself.

Like many other toilet names, ‘lavatory’ developed over time to reflect its current meaning, which is “a place where you could relieve yourself,” or, to put it another way, “a place where there is a toilet and obviously a sink.”

However, it’s uncommon to hear people use the word lavatory nowadays because it’s out of trend. Only a small percentage of older British citizens use it.


The history of Loo is pretty intriguing. Previously, when there were no appropriate toilets available in houses, people relied on chamber pots to relieve themselves at night. A chamber pot is a bowl that is kept in the room and used as a toilet at night.

Then, while outside their homes, the people would empty their chamber pots, shouting “guardez l’eau” as they did so.

It was from this word that people derived the term “loo.” In countries where people do not avoid using the word toilet, a loo is now regarded as a considerate and appropriate way to refer to a toilet.

Water Closet

Lastly, you may have noticed that public restrooms have WC written on the outside. Its complete word is ‘water closet.’

In the past, people relied on public restrooms outside their homes since they lacked access to private restrooms. The term “outhouses” was used to describe such toilets.

Later, when people advanced, they thought about having private bathrooms in their homes. The name ‘water closet’ makes sense because they turned their internal closets into toilets. In contrast to outhouses, the bathroom had toilets that flushed with water.

How Do the Terms Bathroom and Restroom Differ?

Bathrooms and restrooms are different in that a bathroom is a private, or you could say, a residential toilet, but a restroom is entirely a public toilet. Furthermore, a restroom will have more than simply a toilet, such as seats or sofas, which you may not find in a bathroom.

In contrast to a bathroom, a restroom is a sizable space with numerous toilets and sinks. A bathroom is a small room in a house that includes a toilet as well as one or two sinks.

But the bathroom prevails in that case if you’re talking about a shower stall or bathtub. Those can be found in a bathroom, but not a restroom.


It is pretty fascinating to learn about the various names of toilets and their intriguing etymological roots. However, putting other names aside and concentrating on the restroom, you now know the answer to your question and, in fact, more than just the answer because you now know quite a few facts about it as well.

Make sure not to refer to an indoor toilet as a restroom because it would sound a bit odd. The word restroom is only used for a public toilet.

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One Comment

  1. I’m a 63 year old from Ireland. Over the years I have probably mainly used the words Jax/jacks (not sure of spelling) lavatory, and toilet.
    I have a wife from the Phillippines. One one occassion she told me she was goiing to the rest room. I had no idea what the hell she was talking about. Well actually, I thought she meant the bedroom. Anyway, I soon got her out of that silly habit.☺

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