Euphemisms A – Everybody Poops

Everybody may poop - but most of us don't talk about it directly. What do we say instead?

Visual Description: White woman with salt and pepper asymmetrical hair signs outside. There is a clear blue sky, a fence running at a diagonal behind her, and a small garden in the distance. There are no sounds from the video except for a background track of happy music.


One of the very first euphemisms that came to mind for me was all things related to our bodies and the bathroom. This is a big taboo to talk about directly in American hearing culture! It also depends on which groups you are a part of too! Different subcultures have different euphemisms they are more likely to use.

The first one I thought of was women who are more like to use the following two euphemisms: “use the little girl’s room” and “powder my nose”. This comes from the idea of having a row of women preening in front of a mirror in order to touch up their makeup and hair. However, sometimes other groups will use this same euphemism as more of a joke in their subculture. Sometimes gay men (depending on who they are and who they are with) may use the phrase “use the little girl’s room” to talk about themselves.

(Added in English because I thought of it after filming - this is also used as a basic template for “use the little ____’s room” style as well where almost anything could be the descriptive noun.) I remember the “powder your nose” trope happening more in movies during the 80s or 90s when it could be used to indicate that someone was snorting cocaine in the bathroom instead of using a toilet or urinal. I think that it was a joke used back in the day, but I have no idea if it is still used within that community as I’m not connected with it.

There’s another example that typically happens with men (and perhaps women, too, I’m not sure) in the military who may call the bathroom “the head” as in “I’m going to go hit the head”. This, of course, doesn’t refer to blunt force trauma to the skull, but instead the simple use of the bathroom.

These are some of the examples of this concept broken down by community, but there are plenty of other ways that we joke about this too. Some are ridiculous, or creative, or bizarre, and a clear example of this was on the old TV show South Park. I vividly recall an episode where every townsperson had a different euphemism/joke about using the bathroom but they were all ridiculous!

I remember one using the phrase “dropping the kids at the pool” to convey the toilet as a body of water with poop floating in it like little kids in a pool. Why this is, I’m not sure at all!! All of these come together to show how we use humor or group connections in how we choose to not talk about going to the bathroom even though it is something that naturally happens. There’s even a kid’s book - started to say for babies, but that is probably too young. (English add - Well, to read about it anyway, babies poop before they do dang near anything else of importance!) It’s called “Everybody Poops” with pictures of animals and their poop as well as various family members in order to help toddlers to feel comfortable with the natural process of going to the bathroom.

Of course, once they start to grow up, we shush them and say “sure it’s natural, but don’t talk about things like that”. It’s a natural scenario for the use of euphemisms instead. Another example of a more medical approach to this topic would be to use BM or bowel movement. I’ve noticed that this is used more often in conjunction with doctor’s offices, and/or with senior citizens. We’ll even use a numbering system to say #1 and mean pee, and #2 for a bowel movement so we only have to say numbers instead of details.

I’m trying to think of other examples of jokes or even using baby language even when kids are grown. We may ask a kid “are you stinky?” before taking them for a diaper change when we really are trying to find out if they had already pooped and are ready for a fresh diaper. I’d love to know what signs are used in the Deaf community for this. It’s typical to see the sign TOILET/BATHROOM when walking away from a group who signs, but I’m curious if there are more distinct euphemisms that are used instead. Is the sign BATHROOM/TOILET appropriate for all settings, and with all people? Is it fine to use that sign, or are there other options as well?

Obviously, there are other signs for poop, but these tend to be descriptions of either the poop or the activity or lack thereof required to get it out. Even for “pee” I’ve seen some sign PEE from converting a sign at the nose, or just general TOILET for that one as well.

Are there other examples that we should talk about for what is considered more polite or appropriate or are only used within certain groups? Please let me know! After all, everybody poops, so why not talk about it?!?

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