Inspired by this question on the English StackExchange sister site, I'm asking the following question.

Which of the following synonyms is suitable for different situations (formal, colloquial, ...)? Is there a difference at all?

  • Toilette
  • Klo
  • WC
  • Bad

Are there other words for bathroom I could use? Are there regional differences?

3 Answers 3


In a restaurant you'll only find WC or Toilette on doors and signs. In an apartment/residence, you will ask for Bad, WC or Toilette. You will never ask a waiter in a restaurant about das Bad.

The word Klo is only used in very casual situations. Scheißhaus is very vulgar. Casual and funny is die Keramik-Abteilung, but you should never use this term in a hardware store, they may have a ceramic department for real.

  • 4
    Ha, I had never heard Keramik-Abteilung before! :)
    – splattne
    Aug 8, 2011 at 20:02
  • 2
    +1 for the warning about when not to use Keramikabteilung. Aug 8, 2011 at 20:46
  • 1
    You might also hear Lokus some times.
    – FUZxxl
    Aug 10, 2011 at 15:40
  • "Wo befinden sich ihre sanitären Einrichtungen?" is another formal way to inquire about the location of the toilets. Another casual word for loo is "Bedürfnissverrichtungsanstalt", which mimics the naming style of bureaucratic offices. It means "the public-law institution for the fullfillment of sanitary urges".
    – Exilyth
    Jul 19, 2012 at 21:34

In a very formal situation we may not wish to refer to the precise location but may rather ask

"Wo kann ich mir bitte die Hände waschen?"

assuming that this is also the place your needs are going to be relieved. Still in a formal context asking for "Toilette" like in

"Entschuldigen Sie bitte, wo sind hier die Toiletten?"

is perfectly fine.

In a more casual setting we could also use

"Wo geht es hier für kleine Jungs/Mädchen?"
"Wo ist denn hier das WC?"

The use of "Klo" is recommended only in a very relaxed or familiary setting.

"Badezimmer" or "Bad" is not genererally used in this context, mostly because these rooms used to be, and still are separate.

  • 3
    "Badezimmer" or "Bad" is associated with a "complete" bathroom, including a shower, a toilet and/or a bathtub.
    – Daniel
    Aug 8, 2011 at 16:21
  • 2
    Generally agree, though I think "WC" could be used in a formal context as well, since that's what's often written at the doors/signs. In Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, Schiethus may be perfectly fine ;) Aug 8, 2011 at 16:26
  • In Eastfrisia too ;-) (near the North-Sea)
    – Daniel
    Aug 8, 2011 at 16:33
  • 4
    "für kleine Jungs" is just an idiom to refer to the toilet. I also use it, even though at 1m90 I'm definitely not "klein".
    – starblue
    Aug 8, 2011 at 18:34
  • 2
    It seems English has the same idiom, "little boys' room". english.stackexchange.com/questions/37177/…
    – starblue
    Aug 9, 2011 at 11:21
* Toilette
* Klo
* WC
* Bad

Klo is short for Klosett, which is, if cleaned with water, a water closet, hence WC. So if it hasn't a water flushing, I wouldn't call it 'WC', but 'Klo' or 'Toilette'. All 3 words are used to describe the furniture as well as the room.

A 'Bad' is the room where the 'Badewanne' is located, and in most households, the bathroom contains a closet, but it needn't, and in a restaurant, or a public building like a library or a shopping mall, there is normally no bath or shower in the room, so you don't ask for a 'Bad' there.

'Klo' is a bit simple, so you ask for Toilette or WC when talking to strangers. In the family, or with close friends, 'Klo' is alright.

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