The Euphemism

I saw this article on the straight dope (…


Unfortunately, the straight dope staffers (and Cecil, one of the most impressive web authors I’ve read, mostly for his and his staffers’ extreme dedication to the facts) are, as usual, right. We call it many things, from shithouse to sanitary closet all the way to ‘the necessary’ … but we don’t have a neutral, emotion- and euphemism- free word for it. Would that we did. As it is, I think the best I’ve seen so far are:

The Facilities – I know that Mr. Adams (and/or his staff, i.e. Dex) think this is “A nice, formal, polite way around the problem.” For myself, I think it sounds almost workingman formal, rough edges and common civility to boot. It has a nice sound, though. And it’s honest, if polite, about it.

Lavatory – I have a hard-on for Old Latin (as opposed to Church Latin) … the purer the better. Although I have to admit, I kind of like the sound of  ‘lav’ … but never ‘lavvy.’

Privy – It means secluded, private, secret… Isn’t that pretty much what we as a people, in practice, desire? A secret place to go, hidden away from the world, where we can bury our waste by moonlight, or some such?

It seems that part of the process of becoming a first world nation entails being disgusted with your own natural processes (hell, even that’s a verbal dodge). I can’t think of a single first world nation that doesn’t have a privacy/ickyness taboo on human fecal matter.

Of course there is a survival benefit to that, considering the bacteria involved, and the wastes – stuff we’re trying to actually get rid of, thank you very much. As I speak I can feel the taboo creeping over me, making me disgusted with myself for talking about it, much less daring to challenge the convention. And maybe that’s best.

But maybe it isn’t, too.

Hmm. waste elimination location? A little boring and mechanical, but… maybe if we shortened it, to WEL?



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