In India, most people use this kind of thing for bathing (Shower is for rich people and luxury. Not everyone can afford it here.). A bucket of water and a mug. enter image description here

Now, I want to say that "Yesterday, at this time, I took a bath".

When I Googled about it and saw it in a dictionary, it showed me that take a bath means to suffer a financial loss.

So I'm confused whether I can use this phrase or I can rephrase like this:

"Yesterday, at this time, I had a bath".

  • 2
    If you were speaking to an audience where that type of bath is unusual, you could clarify by saying "I took a bucket bath" or "I took a sponge bath."
    – Katy
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 22:45
  • Is there a word to distinguish this kind of bath in Indian English? It's meaning might be obvious enough to Americans or English even if we haven't heard it before.
    – The Photon
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 5:28

2 Answers 2


Firstly, the use of "take a bath" as an idiom to mean 'take a financial loss' is not particularly common. I'm a native British English speaker, one who is deeply interested in language and literature, and had never heard it before! I looked it up and you are right, it is in the dictionary, but it is the fourteenth definition, so I wouldn't worry about people assuming that is the first thing you mean, especially when there is no context to even suggest it.

Secondly, "take a bath" is predominantly American English. In British English, we are far more likely to say "have a bath". The same applies to showers.

I have never seen a 'bucket and cup' like the one you linked to - they just aren't used in England, and I don't think they are known in the USA either, at least not by the majority of people. They may be used in some subcultures I'm not aware of. There are some different ways people may have a 'bath', for example, a bed bath is an all-over wash given to a hospital patient without submerging them in a bathtub (in the USA, this is called a sponge bath). Still, if you said "I had/took a bath" to most BrEng and AmEng speakers they would assume you meant in a tub.

Other than the above, there is nothing wrong with your suggested sentence:

Yesterday, at this time, I had a bath.

You could also say:

This time yesterday, I had a bath.

  • 1
    In the US what you called a "bed bath" would be a "sponge bath".
    – The Photon
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 5:27
  • In Britain, at any rate, there is another soap-and-water metaphor used in finance - if a business plan or scheme washes its face then it is financially viable and will either break even or make a profit. Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 7:17

Despite the idiom, "take a bath" still means "bathe one's self." Context usually makes it clear.

However, in your case, we would say "took a sponge bath" to differentiate from getting into a bathtub. This unequivocally uses the literal meaning and not the idiom, as well.

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