Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Talking Dirty: Porta-Potty or Porta-Loo…or something else entirely?


I ran a half marathon this weekend with a fellow American and two of my English friends. It was actually MORE than a half–my Map My Run app told me I ran 13.76 miles, so thanks thanks for that Sundown Singapore. I digress.  Obviously at the race, they had plenty of these:


(By the way, this totally happens all the time in the U.S. :P)

I said to my English friends, “Hey, we’re going to meet Steph by the Porta-Potties.” They looked at me like a was a bit mad, then thought that was hilarious that I called it a Porta-Potty. I don’t think one of them believed that’s actually what I call it. “Why don’t you just call it a toilet?”Haha I don’t know, that’s just what we call it. My English friends were also surprised when I said ours don’t often have sinks in them. After that I was kind of like, eek maybe I’ll just call it a toilet then. I cannot say Porta-Loo, it sounds too funny when I say it lol.

Another side note: Singapore has nice Porta-Potties or Porta-Loos or Porta-Johns or toilets or whatever you want to call them.

What do you call a portable toilet made out of plastic, set up just for a special event?

Have you ever used a word that people from other cultures unexpectedly found hilarious?

12 thoughts on “Talking Dirty: Porta-Potty or Porta-Loo…or something else entirely?

  1. phantomwriter143

    I nannied for a German family during grad school, and I was talking to the mother one afternoon when she returned home from work. I said the girls were “wired” that day, and she gave me a funny look. So I had to explain.

    Also, just to further demonstrate that I’m an old soul, I used the word “scuttlebutt” at work (in America) one day, and everyone laughed at me. Only one person in about 30 people knew what it meant. So I educated them. No differences in culture there, but definitely in education and vocabulary.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Haha that’s funny. I’ve definitely heard the time scuttlebutt and I think I kind of know what it means. The one that I get nailed on back home is “bubbler” for what other people call a drinking fountain haha. I don’t even use it here.


      1. phantomwriter143

        Scuttlebutt, in its slang version, means rumors/gossip/chatting, etc. There’s also a nautical definition for it, which I think is the original meaning. It referred to the cask to serve water on a ship, which relates to a modern day water cooler in an office setting. Where people used to stand around, drink water, and gossip.

        The way we use words, nowadays. It’s amazing!

        Hehe! Bubbler. 🙂


  2. Sierra

    Chemical latrine. Or Portajohn. :]

    Congrats on running the half marathon. I run 2-4 miles just about every other day and once every coupla weeks a 5k rolls around that I participate in, but I don’t think I could ever find the wherewithal to run a half marathon haha. I always look at people who do like they’re either crazy or invincible.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Chemical latrine? I’ve never heard that one!

      Thanks for the congrats! I was pretty intimidated about running a half the first time but it’s really not so bad. I trained hard core the first time I did it, but this is like my 4th and I’ve not been training as well….but still did about as well as when I was training hard core. I feel like if someone can run a 10K, they can run a half. Now a marathon on the other hand…….. never haha.


  3. jlheuer

    So far I’ve been in China ( yukky toilets), London/Britain (good), Paris ( surprisingly good, I’d expected worse) and they are just called toilets/toilettes. Not restrooms (whose resting in there anyway), not washrooms ( I don’t think the primary reason you go in is to wash up)…just toilets. I haven’t use a portable toilet in another country so I’ve never heard a term for them.


  4. Jennifer Austin - Author

    Porta-Potty, but I’m all out American. No friends of other nationalities and I haven’t traveled out of the country since I was a kid. Here in the States I’ve never heard it called anything but a Porta-Potty. It might even be a brand name.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Haha I know! I wonder if it is a brand… that would make sense. I get my my friends call it a porta-loo though. So funny all the little differences! Thanks for comment 🙂


  5. rgdole

    I’m from the South and when I was up north apparently people didn’t understand the word “yonder”… as in “It’s over yonder” you know that general direction that you really aren’t too sure about… but porta-potty makes sense… it’s not a toilet that is permanently affixed to a spot in the ground… it’s portable… and porta-toilet just doesn’t sound as adorable… and it was interesting to learn that what northerners call bar-b-q is just anything they cook on a grill and not the delectable pulled pork that is so hard to find anyone cooking right… I mean we live in the same country and we practically talk a totally different language form what corner of it to the next…


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Haha…. For the record, I’m from the North and I totally know what yonder means. I wouldn’t use it though.

      And portapotty DOES sound way more adorable than porta-toilet.

      Yeah, where I come from we call it a cook-out usually I think. Then I got to Singapore and my British friends call it a BBQ. They think it’s weird I call it a cook-out. I blame Australia :P. Jk Aussies! I don’t! Maybe I use BBQ and cook out interchangeably though, I don’t know. I am familiar with that delectable pulled pork with some sweet tea, though I’ve probably never had it done right, being from THE NORTH and all.

      Yeah it’s amazing how much vocab difference there is between North and South. I’ve been told that you call all soda coke, is that accurate? 😛


      1. rgdole

        yep we do… it’s quite common to hear something like “Do you want a coke? I’ve got pepsi and sprite.” lol… we all just be crazy… my husband is actually from out west and sometimes it takes a bit for us to figure out what the other is trying to say…

        the funny thing about BBQ even in the South is that each state seems to have a bit of different flavor… Texas is pretty good but I think I like Georgia’s the best… and be careful in North Carolina because for some reason the put coleslaw on it… but if you’re ever in the area you should definitely get you some 😀


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