History of the Flushing Toilet: The Water Closet
In Washington, United States
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One of a series of six caches placed to spread knowledge of toilets and the history of some slang!
The term "water-closet" was an early term for a room with a toilet. Originally, the term "wash-down closet" was used. The "water-closet" was invented in England around 1870. It did not reach the United States until the 1880s. Around this time, only luxury hotels and wealthy people had indoor private bathrooms. By 1890, the fear of the theory of disease was beginning to arise about carelessly disposed human waste being contaminated and infectious. This is stated in the book "A People and A Nation" the eighth edition. Originally, the term "bath-room" referred only to the room where the bathtub was located, which was usually a separate room, but this connotation has changed in common North American usage. In the UK, the terms "bathroom" and "toilet" are used to indicate discrete functions, even though bathrooms in modern homes have been designed according to the American norm since around the mid-sixties. The term "water closet" was probably adapted because in the late 19th century, with the advent of indoor plumbing, a toilet displaced an early clothes closet, closets being shaped to easily accommodate the spatial needs of a commode. Early indoor toilets had in fact been known as garderobes because they actually were used to store clothes, as the smell of ammonia was found to deter fleas and moths. The term "water closet" is still used today in some places, but it often refers to a room that has both a toilet and other plumbing fixtures such as a sink or a bathtub. Plumbing manufacturers often use the term "water-closet" to differentiate toilets from urinals. American plumbing codes still refer to a toilet as a "Water Closet" or a "WC". Many South American countries refer to a toilet as a "water" or "WC". The Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary accepts "váter" as a name for a toilet or bathroom, which is derived from the British term "water-closet". In French the expression "aller aux waters" ("to go to the waters") has now become obsolete, but it also derives from "water closet". "WC" is still used in the French language, although not as common as the term "toilet", and pronounced as "VC", a shortened version of "double V C". In Germany the expression "Klo" (first syllable of "closet") is still used, though the term is colloquial and not welcome in polite conversation.
In Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands (due to the bowl design) the toilet is often kept in a separate room known as the "WC" even in newly built residences. In the Dutch-speaking part (Flanders) as well as the French-speaking part of Belgium (Wallonia), "WC" is a frequently used synonym for "toilet".
Last Updated: on 11/15/2017 3:47:35 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:47 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum