Italian Word of the Day: Gabinetto (toilet)

There are several way to translate the word toilet in Italian. You can say bagno, but this noun also means bathroom. There is the French “toilette” that is also used in the Italian language, or if you’re a bit posh, you can ask for the servizi igienici (sanitary services).

But perhaps the most precise translation for toilet is gabinetto (masculine, plural gabinetti).

IPA: /ga·bi·nét·to/

Gabinetto is not the most popular word for toilet. Most people will say bagno in the spoken language, but gabinetto is totally fine and you will be understood. The word is a bit more precise as well because you are specifically referring to the place where you can urinate, rather than the room where you can freshen up.

Mi scusi, mi può indicare dove si trova il gabinetto?

Excuse me, could you show me where the toilet is?

Gabinetto can refer to the actual room where the toilet is, as well as the toilet itself.

Mannaggia, mi sono cadute le chiavi di casa nel gabinetto!

Damn, I dropped the house keys in the toilet!

In Italian, gabinetto can refer to things other than just toilet. In old palaces or government houses, it can mean a study room, dressing room or meeting room. It can also refer to the group of ministers that form a government. In museums, it is a room reserved for special collections, whereas in a school it can mean a lab.

  • gabinetto dentistico = dentist room or studio
  • capo di gabinetto = head of administrative office
  • gabinetto di chimica = chemistry lab

If you spend some time in Italy, you’ll come across another slang word for toilet: cesso. It is fine to use it among friends, but you’ll appear very impolite if you ask for the toilet in this way at a restaurant or in a meeting!

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