The word "toilet", for the plumbing fixture or for the room, is considered impolite[by whom?] in some varieties of English, while elsewhere the word is used without any embarrassment. "Toilet" was by etymology a euphemism, but is no longer understood as such. As old euphemisms have become the standard term, they have been progressively replaced by newer ones, an example of the euphemism treadmill at work. The choice of word relies not only on regional variation, but also on social situation and level of formality (register) or social class. American manufacturers show an uneasiness with the word and its class attributes: American Standard, the largest firm, sells them as "toilets", yet the higher priced products of the Kohler Company, often installed in more expensive housing, are sold as commodes or closets, words which also carry other meanings. Confusingly, products imported from Japan such as TOTO are referred to as "toilets", even though they carry the cachet of higher cost and quality. (Toto, an abbreviation of Tōyō Tōki (東洋陶器 Oriental Ceramics), is used in Japanese comics to visually indicate toilets or other things that look like toilets; see Toilets in Japan. )

In many countries, private homes are designed with the flush toilet and the bath or shower in the same room, the bathroom , to simplify plumbing and reduce cost. Other cultures find this insanitary, and have one room for body-washing and a separate room for excretion . Public toilets are installed where their use is expected on a permanent basis, while portable toilets may be brought in for large but temporary gatherings. Chemical toilets are also used in various contexts, such as passenger trains and airplanes .

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