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Restroom vs. Washroom: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 15, 2023
Both "restroom" and "washroom" refer to a room with toilets and sinks; however, "restroom" is more commonly used in the U.S., while "washroom" is often used in Canada.

Key Differences

"Restroom" and "washroom" are terms that refer to facilities equipped with toilets and sinks. In the context of the American English lexicon, "restroom" is the more prevalent term used to describe such facilities in public places. On the other hand, "washroom" serves a similar purpose but is more often heard in Canada and certain other parts of the world.
Despite the slight regional variations, both "restroom" and "washroom" fundamentally denote a place where one can relieve oneself and wash their hands. The term "restroom" might imply a place where one can also take a brief respite or "rest", although its primary function remains the same. Conversely, the term "washroom" emphasizes the washing aspect, indicating a space primarily for personal hygiene.
In everyday conversation, Americans might direct someone to the "restroom" in a restaurant or movie theater, implying the public toilet facilities. In contrast, Canadians might use the term "washroom" in similar settings. However, it's worth noting that both terms are generally understood by speakers of both variants of English, even if one is more commonly used in a specific region.
There's a level of formality and politeness associated with both terms. Instead of using more direct terms like "toilet" or "bathroom," both "restroom" and "washroom" provide a more discreet way to refer to these facilities, especially in public or formal settings.

Comparison Chart

Regional Usage

More common in the U.S.
More commonly used in Canada.


Might imply a place of brief "rest".
Emphasizes the washing aspect.


Seen as a polite term in American English.
Seen as a polite term, especially in Canada


Lavatory, bathroom in some contexts.
Lavatory, bathroom in some contexts.

General Understanding

Universally understood in English-speaking countries.
Universally understood, though more common in certain regions.

Restroom and Washroom Definitions


A facility equipped with toilets and sinks.
I need to find a restroom before we continue our tour.


A room equipped with facilities for washing hands and using the toilet.
The washroom in that cafe was very modern.


A public room in buildings for personal hygiene.
The mall's restroom is on the second floor.


A room with toilets, sinks, and sometimes showers or bathtubs.
After the long drive, he rushed to the washroom.


A polite term for bathroom, especially in public places.
Could you guide me to the nearest restroom?


A space designated for personal hygiene in public or private areas.
The office washroom is always well-maintained.


A place where individuals can relieve themselves.
The restaurant's restroom was exceptionally clean.


A facility where individuals can attend to their sanitary needs.
I'll be back in a minute; I need to visit the washroom.


A designated space in establishments for toilet and washing purposes.
The airport has a restroom after the security check.


A term primarily used in Canada to denote bathrooms.
Is there a washroom nearby I can use?


A room equipped with one or more toilets and sinks for public use.


A bathroom, especially one in a public place.


A room containing a public toilet: a public lavatory.
Could you tell me where I can find the restroom?


A room intended to wash the face and hands.


A toilet that is available to the public


A room with a toilet, particularly a public toilet.


Especially a lavatory in a public place


Can I use "restroom" and "washroom" interchangeably?

Generally, yes. Both terms are understood in English-speaking countries, though one might be more common in certain regions.

Is "washroom" the same as "restroom"?

Essentially, yes. Both terms refer to rooms with toilets and sinks, but their usage varies by region.

Where is the term "restroom" more commonly used?

"Restroom" is more commonly used in the U.S.

What is a restroom?

A restroom is a facility equipped with toilets and sinks, primarily for public use.

What about "washroom"?

"Washroom" is often used in Canada and certain other parts of the world.

Does "washroom" always refer to a public facility?

No. While "washroom" often denotes public facilities, it can also refer to private bathrooms.

And for "washroom"?

Similarly, "lavatory" or "bathroom" can be used in some contexts.

What's the primary function of a washroom?

A washroom is primarily for personal hygiene, including using the toilet and washing hands.

Are there other synonyms for "restroom"?

Yes, such as "lavatory" or "bathroom" in certain contexts.

Can "washroom" refer to a room with showers?

Yes, in some contexts, "washroom" might include facilities with showers or bathtubs.

Is it impolite to use more direct terms than "restroom" or "washroom"?

While not necessarily impolite, these terms are more discreet and are often preferred in formal or public.

Why might someone use "restroom" instead of more direct terms?

"Restroom" is seen as a more discreet and polite term, especially in public or formal settings.

Would someone in the UK understand "restroom"?

Yes, though they might more commonly use terms like "loo" or "toilet."

Why the emphasis on "wash" in "washroom"?

It emphasizes the washing or cleaning aspect, indicating a space primarily for hygiene.

How about "washroom" in the UK?

Similarly, they'd understand, but "loo" or "toilet" might be more prevalent.

In terms of etymology, why is it called a "restroom"?

The term might imply a place for a brief respite or "rest", though its primary function is for relief and hygiene.

Are these terms used in formal writing?

Yes, both "restroom" and "washroom" can be found in formal writing, especially when referring to public facilities.

Does the term "restroom" imply only toilets?

No, restrooms usually have sinks and sometimes additional facilities.

Is "restroom" a modern term?

While its usage has evolved, "restroom" has been in use for many years, especially in American English.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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