Toilet terms: bog rolls, the John, the head.

The term “bog”

The bog is a colloquial expression in British English for a toilet (slang). Originally “bog” was used to describe an open cesspit and the word was later applied to the privy connected to it. If you want to speak proper English, avoid using it. It is colloquial and it would not be widely accepted.

Who invented the toilet roll o bog roll?

It was Seth Wheeler who became the official inventor in 1871. His company, Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company, patented the rolled and perforated wrapping paper selling the first toilet paper on a roll.

In 1879, Thomas Seymour, Edward Irvin and Clarence Wood Scott founded the Scott Paper Company in Philadelphia. They began customising rolls for every merchant-customer they had and selling packages of small rolls and stacked sheets. Scott Paper Company began producing toilet paper under its own brand name in 1896. By 1925 Scott Company became the leading toilet paper company in the world.

Before that, the paper was a rare commodity.

In 1857, Joseph C. Gayetty was recognised as the inventor of modern commercially available toilet paper. He invented the first packaged toilet paper in the United States. Gayetty’s Medicated Paper” was sold in packages of flat sheets, medicated with aloe and watermarked with his name.

The first “official” toilet paper was introduced in China in 1391, but the first mention of toilet paper (paper for personal hygiene) dates back to the year 589 AD in Korea. Between 875 and 1317 AD, paper was produced in large sheets (2-foot x 3-foot sheets and even perfumed) for the Chinese emperor’s family hygiene.

Other terms

Other terms for the bathroom are the John, the head, the toilet.

  • The John. Sir John Harrington lived in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Harrington devised Britain’s first flushing toilet, which he called the “Ajax”. He wrote one of his more famous and popular works titled “A New Discourse upon a Stale Subject: The Metamorphosis of Ajax”. The actual flushing toilet device itself was real and was installed in his home and later one was made for the queen around 1596. Although Harrington wasn’t by any means the first to invent a flushing toilet. His invention was an innovation in Britain, which is why it is thought the flushing toilet today is often also called a “John”.
  • The “head”.  This was originally a maritime euphemism.  This came from the fact that, classically, the toilet on a marine vessel was located at the front of the ship (the head).
  • The “loo”. The “loo”, derives from the French “guardez l’eau”, meaning “watch out for the water”. Before throwing the waste out the window, they’d yell “Guardez l’eau!”
  • The Crapper. The term “crapper” derives from the company name “Thomas Crapper & Co Ltd”, which made toilets in Britain. American soldiers in WWI stationed in England found this humorous because of the play on words with the previously existing term “crap” and so began calling the toilet “the crapper”.

Author: Carolina Duran

Carolina is a Marketing professional in London. She is passionate about writing, and design. Originally from Spain, Carolina focuses on topics such as English Grammar and Culture, Marketing, and General knowledge. As the creator of this blog she hopes learners will join the community, contribute and enjoy learning English together.

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