The Smallest Room

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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The Smallest Room

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:28 am

Can I pick your brains please Wizards?

Without spending hours on the investigation, I have been trying to find a word for a toilet that is not a euphemism, and can't.

Toilet, lavatory, WC, loo, bathroom, Gents, Ladies, crapper, etc.. All euphemisms as are all the other words I have met.
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: The Smallest Room

Post by tony h » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am

The robust word we used is dunny or dunneken .

From dung + ken. I had to look up ken. from the OED
ken, n.2

A house; esp. a house where thieves, beggars, or disreputable characters meet or lodge. Frequently with qualifying words, as bousing-ken, dancing-ken, smuggling-ken, stalling-ken, touting-ken (q.v.). to burn the ken (see quot. 1725).

1567 T. Harman Caueat for Commen Cursetors (new ed.) Peddelars Frenche sig. Giiv A ken, a house.
1567 T. Harman Caueat for Commen Cursetors (new ed.) Peddelars Frenche sig. Giiii Tower ye [= look you] yander is the kene.
a1640 J. Fletcher et al. Beggers Bush v. i, in F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher Comedies & Trag. (1647) sig. Mm3/1 Surprising a Boores ken, for granting cheates.
1652 R. Brome Joviall Crew ii. sig. F3 Bowse a health to the Gentry Cofe of the Ken.
1725 New Canting Dict. Burnt the Ken, when Strollers leave the Ale~house, without paying their Quarters.
1800 Sporting Mag. 16 26 Called at a ken in the way home.
1851 H. Mayhew London Labour I. 351/2 Up she goes to any likely ken,..and commences begging.
1860 W. H. Dixon Personal Hist. Ld. Bacon v. §15 These..skulk about the kens of Newgate Street.
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: The Smallest Room

Post by Phil White » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:30 am

Hmmm, I think you are right that pretty well all the words for use in polite company are ultimately euphemisms, including things like "latrine" and "privy". There is, however, the good, old-fashioned "shithouse", which is about as literal as you can get.

Tony's "dunny" is, I believe, in common use in Australia.

In a continental context, you have "pissoir".

As far as "crapper" is concerned, the etymology of that one is uncertain. The word "crap" predates Thomas Crapper and crops up in that meaning in the term "crapping ken" in 1846, when Crapper was about 10 and unlikely to have yet invented any ballcocks, etc. There is, however, no recorded use of "crapper" for a toilet prior to the appearance of Crapper's sanitary ware. If you believe that a "crapper" was simply a place you went to have a crap, then the term would fit your needs. If you believe that it only came into being because people saw the name "Crapper" on toilet bowls, then it is a euphemism, albeit not a very good one.

Personally, I like the monastic "Necessarium", which, while euphemistic, does not reach the staggering prissiness of "powder room".
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: The Smallest Room

Post by Shelley » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:25 pm

I like to call it "the euphemism."

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