As per this "old joke", told in a discussion of ways to stay fresh on long connecting flights:

There is an old joke that I use about my quick baths at airports. I strip down to my underwear and while standing at the sink, I wash down as far as possible. Then I wash up as far as possible. Then I go to the stall and wash possible.

I encountered this via the comments to this https://travel.stackexchange.com/a/90443/4188 answer, specifically. Reproduced below.


As you say, the best way to avoid being that guy is to try and wash yourself in between flights. When showers are not available, you can use (scented or unscented) baby wipes to clean your armpits and other exposed smelly body parts. You can wash your face and neck in any restroom sink. And don't forget to brush your teeth. Changing shirt/t-shirt is also very helpful.


  • This answer led me to this flyertalk thread -- apparently there are (much) better solutions than just going with baby wipes for this kind of non-shower. – chx
  • worth it for the rerun of the "wash possible" chestnut, @chx – Kate Gregory

1 Answer 1


Apparently, it's an old joke.

I washed as far as possible (without taking off all my clothes).
Yes, but did you wash "possible" (itself)?

This is a play on words. "As far as possible" means "to the extent that I was able", but it has the same form as phrases like "as far as my knee" or "as far as the Pacific coast".

So in the phrase wash possible, the word possible is being treated as a euphemism for the places on the body that can't be reached without getting naked.

  • 1
    A childish misunderstanding of "what's possible"?
    – Hector von
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 13:43
  • @Hectorvon the origin is actually pretty clear in the linked conversation (not the Travel SE comments, the thread linked to in those comments). I imagine the phrase could arise independently the way you describe, though that wouldn't count as a "chestnut".
    – 1006a
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 14:54
  • Yes, I understood the play on words, I just wondered if that originated from an elaborate explanation to a child which misunderstood "to wash what's possible", asking in return for the meaning of "to wash possible", responding with a pun made up on the spot. I mean, something must have sparked the imagination on that one.
    – Hector von
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 20:03
  • 1
    It is important to note that the phrase "to wash possible" is complete nonsense. Outside of the carefully constructed context of this joke it means nothing whatever. The punchline "I wash possible" suddenly forces us to accept the absurd and totally unexpected idea that "possible" is a noun, specifically a name for the speaker's private parts.
    – David42
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 1:59
  • reminded me. When I was a child and getting a bath from Mom she had a saying, "First we wash up as far as possible, then we wash down as far as possible; then we wash possible"!
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 23:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .