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[lav-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈlæv əˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/
noun, plural lavatories.
a room fitted with equipment for washing the hands and face and usually with flush toilet facilities.
a flush toilet; water closet.
a bowl or basin with running water for washing or bathing purposes; washbowl.
any place where washing is done.
Origin of lavatory
1325-75; Middle English lavatorie < Late Latin lavātōrium washing-place, equivalent to Latin lavā(re) to wash + -tōrium -tory2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for lavatory
  • He had nothing to do, so he went to the lavatory and washed his hands.
  • If an issuing bank went belly-up then, its notes would be so much lavatory paper.
  • In hospitals, patients must bring everything, including lavatory paper.
  • The half bath had a lavatory so small that it could not be used.
  • Outside is a vast heap of litter and plastic bags used by children as a lavatory.
  • The lavatory wall is the manifesto of a counter-revolution that never comes.
  • People complained, and rightly so, when forced to sit near a smelly lavatory.
  • Many believe it is caught from lavatory seats or spread by witchcraft.
  • One team complained about its accommodations, having to change in the lavatory.
  • After a series of moves, the family ends up in a ramshackle apartment that reeks from the public lavatory next door.
British Dictionary definitions for lavatory


/ˈlævətərɪ; -trɪ/
noun (pl) -ries
Also called toilet, water closet, WC
  1. a sanitary installation for receiving and disposing of urine and faeces, consisting of a bowl fitted with a water-flushing device and connected to a drain
  2. a room containing such an installation
the washing place in a convent or monastic establishment
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin lavātōrium, from Latin lavāre to wash
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lavatory

late 14c., "washbasin," from Latin lavatorium "place for washing," noun use of neuter of adjective lavatorius "pertaining to washing," from lavatus, past participle of lavare "to wash" (see lave). Sense of "washroom" is first attested 1650s; as a euphemism for "toilet, W.C.," it is attested by 1864.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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