The word came into English with other French fashions (first noted 1681), and referred originally to the whole complex of operations of hairdressing and body care that centered around a dressing table covered to the floor with cloth (toile) and lace, on which stood a dressing glass, which might also be draped in lace: the ensemble was a toilette. Alexander Pope in 'The Rape of the Lock' (1717) described the intricacies of a lady's preparation:
Now 'toilet' itself may be considered an impolite word. When referring to the room or the actual piece of equipment, the word toilet is often substituted with other euphemisms (and dysphemisms) such as bathroom, bog, cloakroom, convenience, crapper, facility, gents, khazi,ladies, ladies'/ men's room, ladies/ men's lounge, lavatory, loo, necessary, place of easement, powder room, privy, restroom, shit-house, smallest room, washroom, water chamber and water closet (or or W.C.). The cover of the toilet is called a toilet seat.
When a toilet has difficulty evacuating all of the material within it, it may become blocked, requiring use of a plunger or chemical drain cleaner.
A toilet may or may not be in the same room as a shower or bathtub, and there may be a washing basin. Public toilets often have the washing basin outside the cubicle, in an area where other people of the same sex are present.
Public toilets may be free of charge, or be paid in one of the following ways:
The British word "loo" is said by some to come from "Gardy loo!" (a corruption of the French gardez l'eau! or "watch out for the water!") issued as a warning to passers by when the contents of chamber pots were thrown from upstairs windows, onto the streets below.
There are many different types of toilets around the world. There are also many different ways to clean yourself after you are finished using the toilet. A lot depends on national mores and local resources.
Some toilets are specially adapted for people with a disability and e.g. large enough to enter in a wheelchair.
In the West, the most common type of toilet is the flush toilet also known as a water closet (WC). However, there are many different types of toilet:
The most expensive toilet could be the one in Hong Kong. The whole toilet, owned by a jeweller, is decorated with gold and gems. It is a tourist attraction.
The World Toilet Organisation was set up in 2001 to oversee the development of toilet in the world.
There is a "Toilets of the World" exhibit in the International Finance Center in Osakajo-koen, Osaka.
The taboo status of urination and defecation has led to the term "Toilet humour" being used to describe scatological humor.