Ichabod is itchy

May 29, 2006

Loos or toilets?

Filed under: travel — by ichabodisitchy @ 8:12 pm

n my family (of middle class expats), we always use the word ‘loo’. That is the word we were taught to use as kids– indeed, we were actively discouraged (and even reprimanded) if we ever said ‘toilet’. ‘Toilet’, we were told, is a common and vulgar word. Obviously, this is nonsense but you know, these things stay with you your whole life. My step-children use the‘vulgar’ word all the time (my not being around during the formative years of their life when they were learning to talk) and I must admit that it does not fail to grate on my ears every single time. 

For a long time I’ve known I’m not alone in this ‘loo’ vs ‘toilet’ debate– I remember several years ago listening to someone on Woman’s Hour who had obviously been brought up with the same ‘toiletism’. She was talking about the difficulties she has in explaining to her five year old son why he needs to use the word ‘loo’ when all his friends say ‘toilet’.

But I hadn’t thought the debate was so wide-reaching. Imagine my delight when I saw this public sign at the Hay festival over the weekend:

A whole festival of like-minded people– no wonder I felt so at home!



  1. My mother always insisted on “bathroom” and her main concern was that we *never* use the word b** when referring to one’s bottom! Like you, I’ve been absolutely indoctrinated and to this day I couldn’t possibly use one of those words!

    Comment by Susan — May 30, 2006 @ 12:33 am |Reply

  2. Last year a well known attraction hosted a very interesting (interactive!) display on toilets through the years.
    I hate the expression ‘going for a c**p’ but my children were delighted when they found out that it was a valid expression.
    I have to say the the water closets designed by Thomas Crapper were some of the most beautiful that I have every seen, decorated inside and out. There was also some interesting stuff on the development of loo roll (yes I’m a loo girl) and swore that I would make the family a re-useable ‘scraper’!!

    Comment by Minx — June 1, 2006 @ 8:51 am |Reply

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