15 Ways to Ask for the Restroom Around the World

Because when you gotta go, you gotta go

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Yes, people in England actually call it the loo.

When traveling abroad, there are a few useful phrases that are quite useful to know how to say in the native language. How to get to the train station or pharmacy are useful questions to know, how much something costs is another. Knowing how to say “red wine, please” can also come in handy. But there’s another phrase that might just be more useful than all of the above, especially when it’s an emergency: “Where is the restroom, please?”

15 Ways to Ask for the Restroom Around the World (Slideshow)

For those of us used to simple handle-flush toilets, a visit to the restroom in far off parts of the world can be, shall we say, a daunting experience. Some have multiple buttons and levers, making the whole process far more confusing than it should be, while some are nothing more than a glorified hole in the floor. But at the end of the day it’s a place to do your business, and it’s always good to know where the nearest one is.

There are plenty of names for restrooms around the world, and it’s different in every language. In Icelandic it’s the baðherbergi, in Maori it’s the kaukauranga, in Zulu it’s the yokugezela, and in Haitian Creole it’s the twalèt, which is pronounced much like the French toilette but spelled far more awesomely. In Basque it’s known as the bainugela, in Igbo (spoken in southwestern Nigeria) it’s ime ụlọ ịwụ, in Esperanto it’s banejo, and in Punjabi it’s iśanānaghara. Hope you got all that, because there’ll be a quiz on it later.

While it might be a funny cocktail party trick (depending on what types of cocktail parties you go to) to be able to ask for the toilet in Gaelic (it’s “I gcás ina bhfuil an leithreas?”, if you’re wondering), knowing how to say it in some of the more commonly-spoken languages can actually be quite useful. So we ran a search for the most commonly-spoken languages worldwide, cross-checked it with a list of the most common travel destinations, and assembled a group of 15 languages that you very well just might need to legitimately ask for the restroom in at some point in your life. So study up, because it just might come in handy.

Read on to learn how to say “Where is the restroom, please?” in 15 languages. 

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