Definition of toilet in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtɔɪlɪt/


1A fixed receptacle into which a person may urinate or defecate, typically consisting of a large bowl connected to a system for flushing away the waste into a sewer: Liz heard the toilet flush he got up to go to the toilet [as modifier]: a toilet seat
More example sentences
  • Seat covers have been available for decades, and it used correctly, most seat covers will flush down the toilet without the user touching them.
  • You probably wash up your dirty dishes immediately after eating, and stick bleach down the toilet with every tenth flush.
  • A third of all household water is flushed down the toilet, so control the amount of water you use by putting a plastic bottle or ‘hippo’ in your cistern.
lavatory, WC, water closet, (public) convenience, facilities, urinal, privy, latrine, outhouse, earth closet, jakes;
British  cloakroom, the Ladies, the Gents, powder room;
North American  restroom, bathroom, washroom, men's room, ladies' room, comfort station;
French pissoir
informal little girls' room, little boys' room, smallest room
British informal loo, bog, khazi, lav, throne, thunderbox, cottage
Northern English informal netty
North American informal can, john, honey bucket, tea room
Australian/New Zealand informal dunny, little house, dyke
vulgar slang pisser, crapper, shithouse, shitter
Nautical  head
archaic closet, garderobe, necessary house
1.1A room, building, or cubicle containing a toilet or toilets: a public toilet [as modifier]: someone pushed at the toilet door
More example sentences
  • Although work is on a public floor of the building, the toilets are locked, secured by carefully guarded keys.
  • Marketing is described as weak and many buildings lacked public toilets, baby changing facilities and refreshment areas.
  • In the toilets, the one cubicle with a working light had a broken lock.
2 [in singular] The process of washing oneself, dressing, and attending to one’s appearance: her toilet completed, she finally went back downstairs
More example sentences
  • She quickly changed into an older dress and completed a brief toilet.
washing, bathing, showering;
wash, bath, shower;
grooming, dressing, make-up
formal or humorous ablutions
dated toilette
rare lavation, lustration
2.1 [as modifier] Denoting articles used in the process of washing, dressing, and attending to one’s appearance: a bathroom cabinet stocked with toilet articles
More example sentences
  • The chaplain's office became the receiving and distribution point for clothing and toilet articles.
  • When I had arranged these, with my hairbrush and other toilet articles on the dressing table, the place began to look quite homelike.
  • There was a camp canteen where the prisoners could buy cigarettes, toilet articles or canned food.
2.2The cleansing of part of a person’s body as a medical procedure.
Example sentences
  • Respiratory toilet is encouraged hourly throughout the postoperative period with the aid of an incentive spirometer.
  • PDT treatments were applied to the left mainstem lesion along with debridement and bronchoscopic toilet.
  • The loss of ciliated epithelium emphasizes the need for hydration to improve the pulmonary toilet.

verb (toilets, toileting, toileted)

[with object] (usually as noun toileting)
1Assist or supervise (someone, especially an infant or invalid) in using a toilet.
Example sentences
  • I wouldn't mind toileting a patient if it needed to be done.
  • There is little dignity in being washed, fed, or swung up in a hoist to be toileted.
  • If asleep, the patient was not toileted or changed.
1.1 [no object] Use a toilet: sufferers may need help with dressing, bathing, and toileting
More example sentences
  • When you complain about your dog's poor toileting habits, you are basically admitting that you have failed to train him adequately.
  • When we reprimand a dog for toileting indoors we think we are teaching him not to go indoors, but to go in the garden.
  • Having been trained by the Kennedy's dog trainers, the black and white puppy reportedly made no toileting errors and did not gnaw on the furniture.


go down the toilet

informal Be completely lost or wasted; fail utterly: they didn’t want to see their investment go down the toilet
More example sentences
  • Frankly, our judgment calls seem to be going down the toilet.
  • Alas, the lead singer's attempts to persuade him to remove his shirt for the ladies went down the toilet.
  • There's your last vestige of freedom going down the toilet.


Mid 16th century: from French toilette 'cloth, wrapper', diminutive of toile (see toile). The word originally denoted a cloth used as a wrapper for clothes; then (in the 17th century) a cloth cover for a dressing table, the articles used in dressing, and the process of dressing, later also of washing oneself (sense 2 of the noun). In the 19th century the word came to denote a dressing room, and, in the US, one with washing facilities; hence, a lavatory (early 20th century).

  • A toilet was originally a cloth used as a wrapper for clothes or a covering for a dressing table, from French toilette ‘cloth, wrapper’. From the first meaning developed a group of senses relating to dressing and washing, including ‘the process of washing, dressing, and attending to your appearance’, now rather dated, which is also expressed in the French form toilette. In the 18th century it was fashionable for a lady to receive visitors during the later stages of her ‘toilet’, which led to uses such as this by the dramatist Sir Richard Steele in 1703: ‘You shall introduce him to Mrs Clerimont's Toilet.’ People started using the word for a dressing room, and, in the USA, one with washing facilities. It was not until the early 20th century that it became a particular item of plumbing, namely a lavatory. See also loo. The French word was a diminutive of toile, used for a type of dress fabric since the late 18th century, and of toils (mid 16th century) for entrapment, a figurative use of an earlier sense, ‘net’. Toil in the sense of hard work in Middle English has had a bad reputation from the start, as it was originally used to mean ‘strife, quarrel, battle’, and from then came to be used for something unpleasantly hard. It comes via French from Latin tudiculare ‘stir about’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: toi¦let

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