Italian Word of the Day: Water (toilet bowl)

You may be surprised to learn that a word Italians commonly used to denote the toilet bowl is water! It was abbreviated from the dated English term water closet, which is just another name for a typical flush toilet, or more broadly, the small room containing said toilet.

Be aware, however, that in Italian the w is pronounced as if it were a v, much like the German wasser.

cover image with the word “water” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of cofee

Water is a masculine noun. Because it is a loanword, the plural form is the same as the singular.

  • il water = the toilet
  • un water = a toilet
  • i water = the toilets
  • dei water = some toilets

Pulire il water è il lavoretto di casa che odio di più.

Cleaning the toilet bowl is the household chore I hate the most.

A woman cleans a bathroom toilet with a scrub brush.
Sta pulendo il water. = She is cleaning the toilet bowl.

In colloquial speech, you may hear the use of the word water to describe the toilet itself, but words such as gabinetto, bagno (bathroom), the vulgar cesso and the French word toilette are more common. The abbreviation of the English Water Closet, WC, also exists, and is mainly used on signs (it is pronounced /vuʧˈi/).

Mi scusi, dove posso trovare il water? – Il che? – Il gabinetto… Il cesso, insomma! – Ah, vuole andare alla toilette. Guardi, il bagno è in fondo al corridoio, dove c’è la scritta WC.

Excuse me, where I can find the toilet? – The what? – The lavatory… The toilet, you know! – Oh, you want to go to the toilet. Look, the bathroom is at the end of the corridor, where the word WC is written.

old wc sign outdoors

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