People Are Only Just Realising What WC Toilet Sign Actually Stands For

People are only just realising what the WC toilet sign actually stands for.
Credit: Alamy

People are only just realising what ‘WC’ on a toilet sign actually stands for.

Public toilets are referred to in many different ways in the UK. Some call it a restroom, others call it the loo, and a select few call it a lavatory.

However, most public toilets are signalled by a ‘WC’ sign, yet no one seems to know what this means.

Well, now we know.

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The internet is a goldmine for this sort of little-known but oddly fascinating information.

Whether it’s how the fourth side of a cheese grater is actually supposed to be used, what the initials of M&Ms stand for, or the secret purposes of the hooks on trolleys, you learn something new every day when you spend a lot of time online.

But now, it’s a revelation about toilets that has the internet feeling baffled…

WC sign.
People are just realising what the WC toilet sign actually means. Credit: Alamy

One writes: “I’m glad someone asked because I’ve been wondering this for years but never googled it.”

Another adds: “Can’t believe I’ve been living with a WC sign and had no idea why it was called WC.”

“I was 23 y/o when I learned,” somebody else comments. 

A fourth says: “I know, but don’t use it (don’t use the word – do use the WC).”

Others, though, have been left stunned that people have gone throughout their lives without knowing what ‘WC’ stands for.

One says: “I’ve known this since I was 13?”

A second person questions: “What?! Who doesn’t know this?”

“Surely everyone knows what ‘WC’ stands for?” asks a third.

There’s actually a rich history behind the sign we see almost every day. Credit: Alamy

When broken down, the true meaning of ‘WC’ actually makes perfect sense.

People have quickly taken to the comments to discuss this apparent revelation – despite it having been around since the 1870s in England.

The origin of the name is all based on toilet history.

Once indoor plumbing became more common for households, many people turned their clothing closets into small rooms with a toilet inside.

These were some of the only places in the home with running water inside.

Many people now refer to the room with the toilet as a bathroom.

However, a bathroom typically used to be a room that had a bath, and this would be completely separate from the toilet.

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In a now-deleted TikTok, @itsnathannyc explains: “Before indoor plumbing, we actually had a room for the bathtub, a bathroom. But the spout was outside. You had to carry water in with a bucket, heat it up, pour it in the tub.

“Indoor plumbing comes along and there is already a room with a bath, the bathroom, so where do you put the toilet? Just put it in a closet, it’s the easiest place to put a toilet.”

Due to being one of the only places in the home with running water inside, they later became known as water closets.

“To start, WC is an abbreviation standing for ‘water closet’, a name used in the 1900s for a toilet, due to most being fitted in a spare closet or cupboard. Over time WC has been used instead of bathroom to describe a room with a toilet but no bath,” per Plumb World.

And with that, the TikToker reveals that ‘WC’ stands for ‘water closet’.

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.