Why Is A Toilet Called A John?

Recently I was jogging by a park and I saw a company setting up for an outdoor event.

I couldn’t tell what the event was going to be, but I guessed it was a fair or competitive eating contest or something that would involve a ton of food judging by the dozens of portable toilets they were setting up.

I had never seen so many port-a-potties in my life. And they all had the name John on them.

That made me wonder…why is a toilet sometimes called a john?

John seems like a nice enough name. I don’t know why it always has to be associated with human waste.

According to a fun new site I found called TodayIFoundOut.com, the name comes from Sir John Harrington.

Harrington devised Britain’s first flushing toilet, which he called the “Ajax”.

(Side note…Ajax sounds way cooler than toilet. If someone told me they were going to use the Ajax I would probably picture really dangerous place with lasers or ninjas or something. Maybe I am just thinking of Jax from Mortal Kombat.)

TodayIFoundOut.com says that “Harrington wasn’t the first to invent a flushing toilet (there are references to flushing toilets going all the way back to around 2600 BC), but his invention was an innovation in Britain at the time and it was commonly thought that he was the inventor of the flushing toilet, which is why it is thought the flushing toilet today is often also called a ‘John’.”

I wonder if Sir John Harrington would be proud or ashamed that his name is now synonymous with a toilet? I bet he would be much prouder if people knew him as the guy who invented the Ajax!

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