Why Is The Bathroom Called The John?

Have you ever wondered why the bathroom is referred to as the ‘john’? Have you ask yourself, how did this nickname originate?

The term ‘john’ is derived from the patronymic of the medieval English name ‘John’, but why did this name come to be associated with the restroom? We’re going to take you on a journey through the history of the restroom and explore the answer to this intriguing question. Brace yourselves for an intriguing story – one that is bound to leave you curious and wanting to know more about the history of bathrooms.

So, why is the bathroom called the john? Read on to find out!

Why is the Bathroom Called the John?

The bathroom, or water closet, has been known by many euphemistic names throughout its storied history.

One of the most commonly used terms is ‘the john’, but few people know where the name originated from. In this article, we’ll dive into the history of ‘the john’ and answer the question: why is the bathroom called the john?

John Water Closet Popularity

The term ‘John’ first gained attention with the advent of the “John” water closet (WC).

The John WC was created in 1857 by a man named John Harington. Harington was a courtier of Queen Elizabeth I and was the first known person to create an indoor toilet. Harington’s toilet was similar to the modern toilet except it used a pit instead of a sewer system.

The toilet was originally nicknamed the ‘Ajax’ after the Greek god, but over time the name shifted to ‘John’. While the origin of the name isn’t entirely certain, it is believed to have originated from the phrase ‘to go to the John’.

This phrase was shorthand for going to the toilet and was eventually shortened over time to just ‘the john’.

John Used as Universal Toilet Moniker

After the John WC became popular in the 19th century, the name was adopted as a generic term for the bathroom.

This was especially true in the United States, where the phrase ‘the john’ quickly became a universal moniker for the bathroom. The generic use of ‘the john’ has become so commonplace that the phrase is now generally accepted as the go-to name for the bathroom. The phrase has even seen a resurgence of late with the emergence of popular hip-hop songs, such as ‘John’ by Cardi B and ‘To the John’ by Young Thug.


So, why is the bathroom called the john? The answer lies in the popularity of John Harington’s ‘John’ water closet in the 19th century. Although the WC was originally named the ‘Ajax’, over time the name shifted to ‘John’ due to the phrase ‘to go to the John’ becoming popular as a shorthand for when one needs to use the restroom. Eventually this phrase was shortened to simply ‘the john’ and adopted as the universal term for the bathroom. Citation URL: https://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/John_Water_Closet https://nymag. com/strategist/article/why-is-the-bathroom-the-john. html https://www. history. com/news/history-of-toilets https://www. dictionary. com/e/slang/john/

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