Why Is A Toilet Called A John?

Have you ever been in a public restroom and seen a sign saying “John” on the door? Have you ever wondered why they would be labeled that particular name?

Why isn’t it called something more obvious, like a restroom or a washroom? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why a toilet is referred to as a “john” and uncover its mysterious origins. We’ll shed light on the name’s relevance in modern day society and why its use has both increased and decreased over the years.

So, let’s take a deep dive into why a toilet is called a john—it’s history and meaning has a much longer and more interesting backstory than you would probably expect!

Why is a Toilet Called a John?

Toilets have been given a variety of names throughout the ages.

From “necessity stations” and “privies” to the less-formal “throne” or “loo,” the terms can vary depending on where you are in the world and when the device was invented. One of the more interesting and humorous monikers for the porcelain throne is “john. “

How the John Name Became Commonly Used

John seems to be one of the earlier nicknames to emerge in the Western world.

The term is reported to have originated in 15th century England, where it was used as a euphemism for the toilet. This phrase eventually became “jakes,” which is the Old English word for privy and was more commonly used in place of toilet.

The term “john” likely comes from “Jack,” meaning “man,” as the first generation of toilets (and public restroom fixtures in general) were mostly used by men. Public or business restrooms for women often had signs written in French that read “Ladies,” which then became Lady for English speakers.

When Did the Term “John” Begin to Be Used as a Toilet Name?

By the 18th century, “john” was in full use in England and the United States. This common exchange between individuals in a time before indoor plumbing served to humorously disguise the subject of discussion.

This provided some level of discretion and even social etiquette in regard to discussing bodily functions. It’s highly likely that the phrase “john” to become a full-fledged euphemism used to refer to a toilet as a whole. The phrase was commonplace enough to be used in literature and other published works.

Why is the John Toilet Anonymously Identified?

Part of the reason why the term “john” just seems to fit is the anonymity associated with the name John. It’s likely the name was chosen to create a sense of unassuming anonymity to the device and its purpose. John had too many connotations to make it an easy target for criticism or slander. The alternative to calling it a “john” might have been “Mr. Phelps,” which would have resulted in a much more formal sense of the device. The phrase “john” has managed to remain relevant for centuries now and is still used as one of the most popular terms for toilet worldwide. Although marked improvements have been made to this technology over the years, the slang term The term “john” is still a great giveaway that you’re in the presence of a toilet, no matter the setting.


Toilets have been given silly and amusing names since the dawn of their invention. The term “john” is one of the more popular names for a toilet, likely originating from 15th century England. Thanks to its association with the anonymity of the common name John, the phrase has been able to stick around for centuries. Even with the major advancements in bathroom fixtures over the years, the quirky name “john” remains a funny and useful term for discussing this important device. Citation URL: https://toilethaven. com/why-is-a-toilet-called-a-john/https://www. grammarly. com/blog/john-toilet/

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