Why Is A Bathroom Called A John?

Have you ever wondered how bathrooms came to be called “john”? While it’s commonly accepted and used without giving it a second thought, the answer to this question is actually much more interesting than you may expect.

From its first mention in court records all the way up to its modern usage, explore the history and background of why a bathroom is called a “john” in this article. After understanding this, it’ll be hard to look at the familiar term in the same light.

Why Is a Bathroom Called a John?

A bathroom is often referred to as a “john”, a term that comes from an old English name. This term dates back centuries, and is still in use today.

But why do we call the bathroom a “john”?

History of the Term

The term “john” originated in the 1700s when water closets and toilets were a luxury item.

During this time, the wealthy would often have these items built into their homes, and they would often be called “jons” after the wealthy homeowner John Harrington. Harrington was known for having the first flushing toilets installed in his home.

Since Harrington was the innovator of the flushing toilet, and it was often installed in his own home, it made sense to give the name of “John” to the bathroom, and the term was quickly adopted by other homeowners.

Usage of the Term

The term “john” is still used today, although it has taken on a more general meaning. Generally speaking, it is used to refer to the bathroom, regardless of who actually installed the toilet in the home.

It is also often used in a humorous or vulgar manner. For example, someone might say “I’m heading to the john”, which is a way of saying that they are about to use the bathroom.

This usage dates back to the 1800s, when the term was used in place of the potentially offensive term “toilet”.


The bathroom is often called a “john” because the term dates back centuries. It originated with wealthy homeowner John Harrington, who was known for installing the first flushing toilets in his home.

The term has since taken on a more general meaning, and is still used today despite the fact that the original roots of the word have largely been forgotten.

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