I know the verb 'poop' but then not sure whether it's used for humans. More often than not, I've come across this verb when we talk about pets.

But here, I'm searching for a verb in both ways - formal and informal. And yes, I want to learn how native speakers tell this-

Yes, she wants to ____________

Please note that I am aware of the usage "She wants to go to loo/toilet" but then it does not solve my purpose. Loo/Toilet is just a place but I want to specifically ask/tell that a kid wants to defecate.

Practical problem

At times it happens with me too!

I was at some small place near Port Hope (Canada), and I asked for a washroom thinking that it's a general term. A guy there showed me the place and I went.

I saw this-


And there was NO ...


Luckily, I wanted to go No 1. But then it triggered this question in my mind! What if I want to make sure to the listener that I am asking for a commode and not urinals.

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    Warning: All but one answer so far is highly Americentric. In actual English nobody says "poop"! – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 8 '14 at 16:50
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    American English is actual English. – snailplane Dec 9 '14 at 5:35
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit I say poop. It's a funny word. It's just that typically people don't say poop because it sounds: childish, lacking in class, and/or undignified. Poop :) – Ming Dec 9 '14 at 6:52
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    If you're going to unnecessarily use images instead of words in your post, please at least give the images a description and don't leave the default "add image description here". Your question makes no sense at all to anyone using a screen reader. – Chris Hayes Dec 9 '14 at 7:51
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    The question asks for a formal verb to talk about defecating. My experience (in the US) is that most people would simply not talk about it in a formal setting and would rather use euphemisms instead. There is somewhat of a taboo around feces in formal settings. Informal settings would be okay with poop. – Owen Johnson Dec 9 '14 at 16:04

Please note that I am aware of the usage "She wants to go to loo/toilet" but then it does not solve my purpose. Loo/Toilet is just a place but I want to specifically ask/tell that a kid wants to defecate.

In British English, "Go to the loo/toilet" doesn't just mean going to the room or the piece of furniture: it means using said piece of furniture. "Poop" is American; the British equivalent is "poo" but that's something you'd normally only say to a child.

For adults, in most situations, you don't need to say why somebody is going to the toilet: that's seen as private and people don't talk about it. You might excuse yourself from the room by saying that you're going to the toilet but the people you're talking to don't need or want to know exactly what you plan to do there. Saying where you're going serves more to inform them that you'll be back soon. As such, if adults do talk to each other about defecation, it's usually in either euphemistic ("doing a number two"), coarse ("taking a dump") or offensive ("going for a shit") terms. The main exception to this would be your doctor, who's likely to use terms like "defecate", "bowel movements" or "passing solids".

I was at some small place near Port Hope (Canada), and I asked for a washroom thinking that it's a general term. A guy there showed me the place and I went. I saw [urinals] but no [stalls].

Yes, washroom/restroom/bathroom (North America) or toilets/loos/bathroom (UK) is the general term. I've never seen a men's toilets with only urinals, anywhere I've been (UK, Europe, North America). It seems most likely that you missed the stalls/cubicles: perhaps they were behind a door that you mistook for a storage cupboard or something. In my experience, anywhere that has space has both urinals and stalls; anywhere that doesn't have space for both just has an ordinary toilet.

  • The question arises as in some places, if you just ask for a loo/toilet, what you have (say for men) is just urinating and not commode. It's for this reason, we need to mention that no, I'm not going for No.1 but No.2! – Maulik V Dec 9 '14 at 4:47
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    @MaulikV Answer edited. I've never come across anywhere where the men's toilets had only urinals. – David Richerby Dec 9 '14 at 7:18
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    @MaulikV The situation you were in almost never happens, though. Whoever made the decision to build a bathroom with only urinals is a complete idiot in every sense of the word; he went through all the trouble have the plumbing routed only to not allow customers to relieve themselves fully. Most places either have both or only commodes. – Crazy Eyes Dec 9 '14 at 15:28
  • Often male friends will explain exactly what they need to do as a shock factor type thing ("fancy a pint? I just need to go for a shit first, and then violently so after having ten"), but nobody would ever mention anything scatalogical when talking to other people. – Matt Fletcher Dec 9 '14 at 18:48
  • You only really find "washroom" in Canada. Most Americans would probably understand what you meant, but very few would ever call it that on their own. – corsiKa Dec 10 '14 at 14:10

Yes, "to poop" is used for humans. However, I think it sounds a little strange to say, "Yes, she wants to _____." I would say, "Yes, she needs to poop." "To poop" is the way that thought is expressed most of the time.

Other ways to say it:

"Yes, she needs to defecate." medical/clinical
"Yes, she needs to have a bowel movement." discreet and medical/clinical
"Yes, she needs to go number two." discreet and informal

"Yes, she needs to take a shit." vulgar ("shit" is a curse word)
"Yes, she needs to take a dump." vulgar
"Yes, she needs to drop the kids off at the pool." a euphemism - Someone might say this is they were trying to be funny but it's not widely common so you might find some people don't know what you mean.)

  • <andy rooney voice>Why do they call it "taking" a dump, you don't actual take it anywhere, you leave it. – AbraCadaver Dec 8 '14 at 19:53
  • True...out of all, I think 'poo/p' sounds okay but wasn't sure whether to use it for humans – Maulik V Dec 9 '14 at 4:49
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    "She needs to go #2" is not only discreet but discrete. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 9 '14 at 20:24
  • Reminds me of a great xkcd, "reverse euphemisms": xkcd.com/168 – neminem Dec 9 '14 at 22:02
  • +1 for: "Yes, she needs to drop the kids off at the pool." :) – Jorge B. Dec 10 '14 at 16:07

It depends on the culture, but this would be fine in America (if it's a child, and you specifically have to say it). If you want to be even more discreet, you can also say

it's a number 2.

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    Does that imply number 1 = to pee, number 3 = to vomit, or the like? – Hagen von Eitzen Dec 8 '14 at 17:00
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    Yes, #1 is the parallel slang for urinating, but #3 is not universally recognized; I've only ever seen it used as a joke, often an off-color one. – KutuluMike Dec 8 '14 at 17:26
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    I have never heard anyone say #3 – Huangism Dec 8 '14 at 20:06
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    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't: 01 is pee. 10 is poop. 11 is both. – user3321 Dec 8 '14 at 20:56
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    Also, in my experience, using the #1 and #2 euphemisms is only for or around young children, and it is specifically for people. A dog, for example, poops instead of "going #2". That may be a regional or cultural difference however. – ColleenV Dec 8 '14 at 21:16

But here, I'm searching for a verb in both ways - formal and informal. And yes, I want to learn how native speakers tell this-

Informal: The kindergartner told the teacher that he really needed to poop.

The pediatrician asked the young child if everything was OK when he went poop (or pooped).

Ron opened the door to find Harry either pooping or working on an expulso curse, he was not sure which.

Formal (medical contexts): The doctor asked if the patient's bowel movements had been normal.

The professor told the med students always to inquire if a patient was having any difficulty digesting or defecating.

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    "went poop" is very much an americanism; it sounds very wrong to my (British) ear. – lmm Dec 8 '14 at 21:30
  • @lmm It's only really said by young kids here. – bjb568 Dec 8 '14 at 21:57
  • When he went poop? Dear god, this is not English. – Matt Fletcher Dec 9 '14 at 18:38
  • @Matt Fletcher: And yet God understands it as though it were. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 9 '14 at 20:16
  • @MattFletcher Yes it is. Perhaps it isn't British English, but it's definitely English (albeit extremely informal, and childlike). – neminem Dec 9 '14 at 22:01

(I'd have added this as a comment only that requires 50 points.) To a native British English speaker, "poop" sounds American. We'd say "poo".

  • perhaps best explained by Phil Jupitus (youtube.com/watch?v=s3pABgbjF24#t=156) – KutuluMike Dec 8 '14 at 17:33
  • (Having just finished watching that show, the language gets kinda NSFW a few minutes further in.) – KutuluMike Dec 8 '14 at 17:39
  • @MichaelEdenfield at what point is watching NMTB safe for work? :P – Matt Fletcher Dec 9 '14 at 18:35

It's perfectly valid and would be understood, however it's generally not used for adults. In other words you would use it for children, but it's highly unlikely it would be used for teenagers or anyone older than that.

Most cultures have regional and class slang with varying degrees of potential offensiveness that would also be used for this so "native" speaking is going to vary a lot based on where you are and the people you are talking to.


In the US, it's very common for young children to say they have to "poop", or "go potty". In fact, it's practically expected. Some people are more uptight and insist on teaching their children to say they have to "go to (use) the bathroom" or some such. Maybe around 10 years-of-age or so does it get kind of weird to say you have to "poop", with any seriousness, anyway. If you're not living in the US, then yes, you'll want to confer with some British subjects or what have you.


I'd say "she needs to poop" is fine, in any context.

But you asked about "she wants to poop". That sounds very odd to my ears. I don't think anybody ever really wants to poop, it's just one of those things we all have to do from time to time.

  • You're right that it's unusual, but there have definitely been occasions where I, as at least a semi-reasonable adult, have wanted to poop. I'll leave the context to your imagination. – Esoteric Screen Name Dec 9 '14 at 14:15
  • I disagree, I often want to. I make a whole ceremony of it and everything. Candles, violin music, Enya- the whole shebang. – Matt Fletcher Dec 9 '14 at 18:43
  • Just so long as you don't hire a string quartet. – Dawood ibn Kareem Dec 9 '14 at 18:47

I would not use "poop" at all. What about coining up something that has "gas" in it? Yeah, right, I AM thinking of that Simpsons episode at the "Itchy & Scratchy [theme] park" :-) Remember the "Searing Gas Pain Land"? Yes "gas" in this context does stand for "flatulence"! You will know that once you saw that Itchy feeds Scratchy (or vice-versa, can't remember) with jalapeno pepper, so that a "tornado" is building up inside him in no time. (P.S. This is a language-related SE site, so let me add this bit: in the German translation this was (horribly, even most officially) translated into "Brennendes Benzin-Schmerz-Land", with "gas" being misinterpreted as "gasoline" (excuse me Sir or Ma'am, "petrol" for our British readers, indeed).

  • "Hello, can I help you?", "Excuse me, yes- I wish to use the lavatory.", "Ah, I see, and what is the exact reason for wishing so?", "Well, you see, I have searing gas that resembles a jalapeño tornado.", "Of course, right this way sir.", etc etc... – Matt Fletcher Dec 9 '14 at 18:45
  • So what, why not? It's at least creative, and not offensive at all. It talks around the problem. Similarly to us IT guys, who always have to work around a problem. ;) – syntaxerror Dec 9 '14 at 19:15
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    We're more likely to have a bash at if nothing else :P Your answer resembles the ramblings of a mad man but it made me smile at least! :D – Matt Fletcher Dec 9 '14 at 19:48
  • We IT guys are ALL mad as a hatter. (Well, roughly 99.5%). Don't say you didn't know? BTW, be glad I wasn't trying to construct anything from Star Trek or so...(in Klingon?!) Or South Park? Geez, gimme a break... – syntaxerror Dec 9 '14 at 19:49

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