Webster 1913 Edition



, dim. of
cloth. See
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
is perfect
[Written also
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 1828 Edition



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

Definition 2024




The Toilet of Venus (La Toilette de Vénus), by François Boucher

Alternative forms


toilet (plural toilets)

Western flush toilet
East Asian squat flush toilet
Ancient Roman pit toilets
An outdoor pit toilet (outhouse) at Siple Dome Field Camp, Antarctica.
  1. (archaic) Personal grooming: washing, dressing, etc. [from 17th c.]
    • 1931, William Faulkner, Sanctuary, Vintage 1993, page 111:
      Three women got down and standing on the curb they made unabashed toilets, smoothing skirts and stockings, brushing one another's back, opening parcels and donning various finery.
  2. (now rare) One's style of dressing: dress, outfit. [from 18th c.]
    • 1871–72, George Eliot, Middlemarch, Chapter 1
      "It is so painful in you, Celia, that you will look at human beings as if they were merely animals with a toilet, and never see the great soul in a man's face."
    • 1917, Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge":
      "It is a quarter-past two," he said. "Your telegram was dispatched about one. But no one can glance at your toilet and attire without seeing that your disturbance dates from the moment of your waking."
  3. (archaic) A dressing room. [from 19th c.]
  4. A room or enclosed area containing a toilet: a bathroom or water closet. [from 19th c.]
    Sorry, I was in the toilet.
    • 2002, Digby Tantam, Psychotherapy and Counselling in Practice: A Narrative Framework, p. 122:
      He would hit her when she cried and, if this did not work, would lock her in the toilet for hours on end.
    • 2014, C.S. Walter, Abandoned Bridges, pp. 105 f.:
      He wet his thumb with saliva pressing on the tongue, ran it up and down faster over the letter 'I' of 'TOILET', the 'LADIES TOILET' was transformed into 'LADIES TO LET' in no time.
  5. (New Zealand) A small secondary lavatory having a toilet and sink but no bathtub or shower.
  6. (obsolete) A chamber pot.
  7. A fixture used for urination and defecation, particularly those with a large bowl and ring-shaped seat which use water to flush the waste material into a septic tank or sewer system. [from 19th c.]
    My toilet backed up. Now the bathroom's flooded.
  8. (figuratively) A very shabby or dirty place. [from 20th c.]
  9. (obsolete) A covering of linen, silk, or tapestry, spread over a table in a chamber or dressing room.
  10. (obsolete) A dressing table.
    • 1904, Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock, Canto I, lines 121-126:
      And now, unveil’d, the toilet stands display’d,
      Each silver vase in mystic order laid.
      First, robed in white, the nymph intent adores,
      With head uncover’d, the cosmetic powers.
      A heav’nly image in the glass appears;
      To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears.

Usage notes

In present use, toilet refers most directly to fixtures for containing or removing human waste. As such, although toilet was originally a euphemism itself, its use to describe the place where the toilets are located (e.g., "Where is the toilet?") is now considered somewhat indiscrete; instead, it is more common to employ other euphemisms, such as bathroom or WC (e.g., "Where is your restroom?").

Until the late 19th century, toilet referred solely to personal grooming, including bathing and hair care. This still appears in toiletries and in various set phrases, such as toilet water and toilet bag. This use is sometimes understood as a new borrowing from French, despite being the older sense of the English word. Medical jargon also includes some set phrases such as “pulmonary toilet” and “toilet of the mouth”.


  • (room for urination and defecation): See Wikisaurus:bathroom
  • (NZ, small room for urination and defecation): half bath, half bathroom (US); cloakroom (UK)
  • (pot used for urination and defecation): Wikisaurus:chamber pot
  • (fixture for urination and defecation): See Wikisaurus:toilet
  • (in a nautical context): See head (item 4.1.4)


  • (fixture for urination and defecation): See Wikisaurus:toilet

Derived terms


  • Estonian: tualett
  • Japanese: トイレット, トイレ



toilet (third-person singular simple present toilets, present participle toileting, simple past and past participle toileted)

  1. (dated) To dress and groom oneself
  2. To use the toilet
  3. To assist another (a child etc.) in using the toilet



  1. "toilet, n." in the Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. (2014), Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Borrowing from French toilette (small cloth) diminutive of toile (cloth).


  • IPA(key): /toalɛt/, [tˢoaˈlɛd̥] or IPA(key): /tɔilɛt/, [tˢʌiˈlɛd̥]


toilet n (singular definite toilettet, plural indefinite toiletter)

  1. toilet (room containing lavatory); men's room, ladies' room
  2. toilet (lavatory)



External links



  • Hyphenation: toi‧let


Borrowing from French toilette (small cloth) diminutive of toile (cloth)


toilet n (plural toiletten, diminutive toiletje n)

  1. toilet (room containing lavatory); men's room, ladies' room
  2. toilet (lavatory)
  3. personal grooming


Derived terms