The water closet, often referred to as toilet, has a long history and an almost as long a list of problems.

Flush toilets use an enormous amount of water. Usually toilet water is potable and the use of it leads to lower availability for drinking, which can worsen or cause emergencies.

It takes more water to process waste than to carry it away, and that water is not all gray or already polluted.

As you will see from Webster 1913's entry, the toilet is not the thing you excrete into. It is, in correct English, the act of 'freshening up'. It used to be that for a lady or gentleman to 'make one's toilet' would mean to wash one's hands, shave, have a haircut - basically to perform (or to have performed) any acts of grooming and personal hygiene. This would not include going to the lavatory.

Various public spaces and so on used to have separate rooms for (making one's) 'Toilet' and (going to the) 'Lavatory' (or water closet). You would use one, then the other. These two rooms became combined into one, particularly when the designers of passenger trains wanted to save space, and the word less overtly descriptive of the primary act was used for the sign on the door. The word toilet has now become the accepted (or rather, tolerated) noun meaning lavatory; indeed, the word lavatory itself means literally 'the place for washing', but has for a while been the word used for the flushing poo-bowl that the good Mr. Thomas Crapper branded with his name and sold so widely. Others (some dysphemisms created by those fed up with words like 'pee'/'wee' and 'toilet') follow:

  • bathroom/washroom (for somewhat similar reasons to 'toilet' - and why, especially if there's no bath?)
  • khazi
  • bog
  • can
  • john
  • ladies'/gents (room)
  • long drop
  • shitter/shit-house
  • dump tank
  • Nightstool (my favourite, courtesy of literal Chinese translation)
  • (public) convenience
  • privy
and the truly sickening
  • 'restroom'/'place of easement'

English people say 'loo', and rarely 'toilet'. In polite situations, you sometimes say lavatory. One of the easiest ways to spot a foreigner (as opposed to someone who merely has a foreign accent) is their choice of words on this matter. On the whole, non-English-speaking people say toilet, while Americans say bathroom. This can be confusing to some Europeans, who actually do have a separate room for a bath/shower and sink.

Basic Theory

Above all else there are two things you need to know when drinking at a party: Where the toilet is and where to vomit if that toilet is occupied. This should be established well before the first drink is taken. Many embarrassing faux pas can be avoided if these two rules are maintained at all parties.

You should know where the toilet is because if you are drinking at a party… really drinking at a party, you will know every inch of that toilet when the night is through. Furthermore if you discover that the target bathroom has a bidet you should forgo drinking all together and monopolize the bathroom from that point on. Threats of violence from bidet owners should not get in the way of the full enjoyment of a good bidet.

But we’re focusing on toilets. Most toilets have a nice simplistic design that involves some sort of space technology that incorporates a float that floats in a tank on the back. Whatever you do remember that you should never, ever, ever look into the tank. Often vomiting comes on suddenly and if that tank is open you are never, ever, ever going to vomit into the bowl.

The purging of alcohol ridden stomachs is the holiest rite one can perform in the modern era. It symbolizes death and rebirth. It is about renewal.

If at all possible keep the lights off while vomiting. Hopefully there will be some sort of surplus of light leaking under the door. Getting to know the new toilet is far more important than any sort of examination of contents of the bathroom. If you have truly done your job you shouldn’t even have time to admire the vast cornucopia of shampoos in the shower, or the one copy of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War stilling on top of the sink, or perhaps the plethora of hair drying devices plugged into the wall in what appears to be the arrogance of college girls operating under the delusion that at no time will they accidentally knock any of the electrical devices into the sink.

Saying things like “What have I done?” while vomiting is discourage if only because it is an awful movie cliché and because it is far more effective to say this before or just after you’ve vomited and the full impact of the neon day-glo puke in the bowl settles heavily on your mind.

Basic Toilet Etiquette

Remember it is rude to vomit into sinks or onto the floor. A double-plus no is to vomit on a person. Only two places are acceptable to vomit in or on and they are the toilet and the ground outside. If reaching a toilet is impossible going outside is the best option. Vomiting into a trashcan is not classy.

You can vomit on yourself all you want, that can be classy if handled well. For example, vomiting on your own lap is embarrassing but if you slowly look up from it and say, “Oh excuse me. I’m going to borrow your facilities,” you ought to be fine.

Vomiting is a dignified private affair between a man and his (or his host’s) toilet. Yelling things like “I AM THE VOMIT LOR— PUHRRRGUAGGARRG!— I AM THE— ARRRGGUUGUGUGUGU!— FEAR MY GOD VOMIT TING OF J— PUUUTTLLLGGUGUUGUAAGUGAUGAUAG!” while vomiting is unbecoming and should be reserved for a few hours later when most of the guests have either left or passed out and you have overstayed your welcome but are still there because the host is moaning incoherently on the couch because he can’t handle his booze. Screaming “I love the Tofu King!” is a good one, remember it doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to be loud.

Talking to the toilet is acceptable as long as you make it incoherent. Wrong: “Hello good sir Toilet. I am in a rather difficult pickle, am I not?” Right: “Ohhmgodicannotbellee— PUH-HUCKAAARRGAGAG!

If you are at the party alone or with buddies you should always close the door.


If you are a guy and you’ve come with your girlfriend, wife, or lover they ought to be positioned outside the door to cautiously ask things like, “Are you all right, honey?” The correct response to this is, “Imfiiiinnn” which is to be interpreted as “I am fine, thanks.” This is the only allowable response. Things might be a complete spinning blurry mess and you might think that you’re about to die, but never say, “Shiiitttnogonnadie.” This only says “Panic” and is highly undesirable.

If you are a chick with your boyfriend or lover, they ought to be positioned right next to you so they can hold your hair out of your face and say things like, “It’s going to be all right.” The correct response to this is (of course), “Hnnggg.” If you came with your husband, he should whisk you away after your first vomit by apologizing to the party goers and steering you out the door.

Basic Technique

If you have long hair you shouldn’t panic but instead hold it to one side while puking. If you have glasses take them off but do not let them leave your hand.

While in the bathroom don’t vomit anywhere but in the toilet. The sink or bathtub may be tempting targets but you should refrain. You still want to endure yourself to your host at this point especially if the booze was free. As your rational business and social skills decrease this becomes less important than righteously purging yourself, but early on you should not alert your host that they now have a monster in their bathroom that is intent on seeing if it can projectile vomit across the room.

The Hands on Knees position is a good position for beginners. Lean with your hands on your knees and carefully release into the toilet bowl. This is good for a nice light vomit and comes naturally to most people. Try not to splatter the rim, but if you do don’t worry. There’s probably some toilet paper somewhere, if not on a roll than probably under the sink. Do not, however, use tissue paper. It will clog toilets and I guarantee that you will flush the tissue down the toilet after mop up.

Advanced Technique

A good move that is not for beginners is the Bowl Cradle. First cradle the toilet in your arms as if it were a child and vomit over the rim. This has improved aim and you are less likely to splatter. The disadvantage is that you are no longer standing and the room is probably revolving about your brain. Therefore this is not for the casual user.

Another good technique is the Crawl and Cradle. A few people say that this is just an extension of the Bowl Cradle but I disagree. This move assumes that you’ve passed out somewhere near the toilet but not close enough to reach it. You crawl toward the toilet and shift into the Bowl Cradle as soon as you arrive.


A toilet is a porcelain bowl brought to use by our forefathers for the expressed purpose of flushing shit. But with drinking we have elevated it to the status of a divine symbol. It is our Shiva, the Destroyer of Worlds, and should be respected and feared. Never mock a toilet. Ever.

I have seventeen bottles of vodka and you have only five hours. Now, review what you have learned.

Toi"let (?), n. [F. toilette, dim. of toile cloth. See Toil a net.]


A covering of linen, silk, or tapestry, spread over a table in a chamber or a dressing room.


A dressing table.



Act or mode of dressing, or that which is arranged in dressing; attire; dress; as, her toilet is perfect.

[Written also toilette.]

Toilet glass, a looking-glass for a toilet table or for a dressing room. -- Toilet service, Toilet set, earthenware, glass, and other utensils for a dressing room. -- Toilet table, a dressing table; a toilet. See def. 2 above. -- To snake one's toilet, to dress one's self; especially, to dress one's self carefully.


© Webster 1913.

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