In Ireland, toilets go by a few different names. The most common terms used are “toilet”, “bathroom”, and “lavatory”. However, there are also some more colloquial and humorous names that Irish people use for toilets.
The most straightforward name for a toilet in Ireland is simply “toilet”. This is a universal term that is commonly understood in most English-speaking countries. When asking where the toilet is, an Irish person would likely say “Where is the toilet?” or “Excuse me, may I use your toilet?”.
“Toilet” is considered the most polite and formal way to refer to the room containing a toilet. It is suitable to use in all situations, whether at someone’s home, in a public restroom, or at a person’s workplace.
“Bathroom” is another very common term used in Ireland for a room containing a toilet. It is widely understood, though some people consider it an Americanism. “Bathroom” is more casual and colloquial than “toilet”.
Irish people often say they need to “use the bathroom” or ask “where is your bathroom?”. At homes and other residential buildings, rooms containing toilets are almost always referred to as bathrooms.
“Lavatory” is a formal word for toilet in Ireland, though not as commonly used as “toilet” or “bathroom”. It has a very British ring to it and hearkens back to older terminology.
Some older Irish people still refer to toilets as lavatories. You may see “lavatory” on signs directing to public restrooms. Overall though, it’s not used much in everyday Irish slang and conversation.
“The loo” is a humorous slang term for toilet used in casual conversation in Ireland. It’s an abbreviation of the older British term “water closet.”
Saying you need to “use the loo” or asking “where’s the loo?” would not be seen as impolite, but simply as informal, relaxed speech. “Loo” is used more often than “bathroom” in this context.
“The jacks” is another widely used Irish slang term for toilet, especially among men. It is thought to be derived from “jacking off,” referring to masturbation. However, it is not considered particularly vulgar.
At a pub, an Irish man might tell his friend he’s “going to the jacks” or he “has to run to the jacks.” It’s humorous male banter, similar to “the loo.” Women would be less likely to use this term.
“The bog” is an extremely informal Irish slang word for toilet, more so than “the jacks.” It likens a toilet to a marshy bog, indicating less than pleasant conditions!
Using “the bog” in front of strangers would be seen as quite crude. It’s best reserved for very casual conversations with people you know well. Football fans might refer to the “stadium bog” being in poor shape.
“The crapper” is possibly the most vulgar Irish slang term for a toilet. It refers to doing your business as “crapping.” This would only be used jokingly among friends, usually when referring to a dirty or unpleasant bathroom.
Someone might say “Don’t use the upstairs crapper, it’s blocked.” Not for polite company!
“The head” is an Irish nautical slang term for toilet, dating back centuries. It refers to the ship’s head or lavatory at the front of a vessel.
In the past, sailors and dockworkers might have asked “Where’s the head on this ship?” Today, this antiquated term is sometimes used humorously, often with puns like “I need to use my head.”
“The netty” is slang used in parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland for toilet. It’s thought to derive from old French words for “necessities” or “latrines.”
In very casual Northern Irish speech, you may hear someone say “The pub netty was nasty” or “The netty is down the hall.” It’s regional slang not used much in the Republic of Ireland.
The Water Closet
“Water closet” is an extremely old-fashioned British term for toilet, abbreviated as “W.C.” The rooms were originally called that because they contained indoor plumbing.
“Water closet” was more common in Ireland in the Victorian era. Today it sounds very prim and proper, almost comically so. Irish old-timers may use the term in jest.
“The dunny” is an obscure, old-timey Australian slang term for outhouse toilet. It was imported to parts of Ireland in the 19th century.
Rural Irish folks, especially elderly ones, sometimes refer to outdoor privies and chamber pots as “dunnies.” For example: “The dunny is a ways behind the cottage.” It’s rare in modern Irish speech.
There are also some regional Irish dialect words for toilet used in specific counties or villages. These include “the net” in Kilkenny, “the wheely” in Tipperary, and “the growler” in parts of Ulster.
In Donegal, toilets are sometimes called “cludgies.” In Kerry, they may be referred to as “sh***ers.” As these terms are region-specific, their usage is not widespread across all of Ireland.
Rather than use coarse slang, some Irish people employ creative euphemisms for going to the toilet. Examples include “I need to see a man about a dog”, “I need to point Percy at the porcelain”, or “I need to shake hands with the unemployed.”
These imaginative sayings allow reference to toilets in a more polite, indirect way. They can defuse awkwardness lightheartedly. Some are commonly used across the English-speaking world, while others are uniquely Irish.
Toilets in Ireland go by many names, ranging from formal to downright uncouth. The everyday terms “toilet”, “bathroom”, and “loo” are standard. Irish slang like “the jacks”, “the bog”, and “the crapper” is used more casually, often humorously. Regional dialects have their own words too. But no matter the name, Irish plumbing gets the job done!