I'm from India; in our office we refer toilet to 'Wash-room' and 'Rest-room', which is the correct form to use and if there is a difference, what is the difference between the two words?

4 Answers 4


If the room only has sinks for washing, it's a washroom. If it has toilets, it's a restroom. If the room is in your home, it's a bathroom. Here's an odd idiom of the US. If someone asks, "May I use your bathroom," the person is asking to use the room to eliminate, not to bathe. So, a room in the home with a toilet & sink is called a bathroom, even if it lacks a tub or shower.


I would either use two words or one (rest room or restroom), but I wouldn't use a hyphen with either.

I think either restroom or washroom could be used. In the U.S., bathroom is also used, even if there is no tub or shower in the room.

Someone might be inclined to use washroom instead of restroom or bathroom if they were only going in to wash their hands, but that's only a technicality that you might hear on occasion, not a fixed rule that should be applied or assumed.

There's also the term powder room, which would only be used for ladies. I believe the term is out of vogue now.

This Ngram shows that "bathroom" is a rather prevalent term. I'm not surprised; it's the choice I would probably use most of the time.

This Ngram shows how often all the rest of the terms are used – although this data is taken from a written corpus and therefore may not accurately reflect how natives generally speak.

  • 3
    In the U.S. -- at least the places I've lived -- "bathroom" and "restroom" are the conventional terms. Yes, they're euphemisms, we say "bathroom" even if there is no bath tub and "restroom" even though there is rarely a convenient place to rest. "Washroom" would be understood but I think is rather out of date. "Powder room" is definitely out of date.
    – Jay
    Nov 12, 2014 at 14:50
  • 1
    I believe the use of washroom when speaking is more common in some regions similar to the way some folks use soda, pop, or cola depending on what region they're from. Powder room for my family refers to the room in a house that has only a toliet and a sink that is intended for visitors to use. We would say "I painted the powder room over the weekend." but if we were visiting friends, we would ask where the bathroom is, not the powder room. They might not have a house with that type of bathroom. Real estate agents might refer to it as a half bathroom.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 12, 2014 at 19:52
  • Your same Ngram in American English: books.google.com/ngrams/… and ......
    – Adam
    May 27, 2016 at 5:37
  • ....in British English: books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Adam
    May 27, 2016 at 5:37
  • Looks like "restroom" is spreading.
    – Adam
    May 27, 2016 at 5:38

The word we use for the room in which we evacuate our bowels and bladders depends very much on the culture we happen to be in. There is no definitive answer to your question.

  • +1 Brits find it quite amusing to hear it referred to as a bathroom... when it doesn't contain a bath. As a youth I first discovered one of these polite euphemisms after a visitor asked where he could wash his hands. I innocently pointed to the nearby kitchen sink. Nov 12, 2014 at 10:40
  • @Tetsujin - I cringe to think about what may have happened next ;^)
    – J.R.
    Nov 12, 2014 at 15:56
  • Is there a lot of variation across regions that speak British-English for the name of that room with the toilet in it? In the US, restroom would be pretty universally understood and polite, even though the person hearing it might refer to the room as a washroom, bathroom, or toilet when they're speaking.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 12, 2014 at 20:20
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    @Tetsujin: I did this in Australia - I asked for the bathroom, and my slightly puzzled host showed me to a room with a bathtub & a sink. I, greatly dumbfounded, had to explain that the room lacked the fixture I had in mind. After brief consultation, we discovered that the room I wanted was the toilet (or "dunny"), a tiny room just outside the back door. This was a few days after I had scoured an empty terminal at the Auckland airport for a restroom, toilet, lavatory, privy, public convenience, anything; at last, in my final desperation, investigating one of the places tersely labeled "WC."
    – Evelyn
    Mar 18, 2015 at 5:57

In Canada, the term for the room with the toilet is a "washroom." In the United States, it's generally "restroom" or "bathroom," though people generally understand if you say "washroom."

In the United States, signs in stores that show you where you can use the toilet almost universally use the term "Restroom."

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