Perhaps one of the more lighthearted variations between my homeland of Great Britain and the United States can be found in toilet euphemisms. While I have previously written about the major differences between the public toilets of both nations, it is of vital importance that I share with you the many wonderful phrases we each use to describe the actual toilet-going experience, not to mention the toilet itself.
Of course, the British are famous for the use of toilet humo(u)r. So much so that we have approximately 983 billion words for toilet. Most famous, of course, is the British use of the word loo, but the following are also commonplace within the complex world of British English: bog; shitter; lave; lavatory; latrine; and pisser.
In the US, these terms are replaced by a number of Americanisms: porcelain god; restroom; throne; the john, potty; bathroom; commode; crapper; outhouse; and the bowl.
Moreover, Brits have an even greater number of words to describe the act of urinating, including the following: having a slash; breaking the seal; spending a penny; having a wee; draining the lizard; having a piddle; having a tinkle; pointing the pink pistol at the porcelain firing range; and watering the flowers.
And Americans can certainly hold their own (pun intended) in this department too, with phrases such as taking a leak; taking a wiz; go potty; piss like a racehorse; go see a man about a horse; and take a squirt.
And if we're talking about number twos (itself a mutual euphemism), the British have a mountain of phrases: arsefire; download a brownload; downing the brown; having a poo; dropping a bomb; growing a tail; laying a brick; slopping gruel in Oliver's bowl; spray-painting the porcelain; and the unfortunately named chocolate time.
Some of the more humorous American terms include taking the Browns to the Superbowl; taking a dump; pooping; taking a Nixon; baptizing a Baby Ruth; murdering a brown snake; and making a boom-boom.
If you're still reading and have found yourself on the floor laughing, let me know some of your favo(u)rite toilet euphemisms in the comments below. Also, let me know of any that I missed (there are plenty, I'm sure).
Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and writes a weekly column for Anglotopia. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States.
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