Why a Bathroom Is Called a John

Sir John Harington or Harrington is known to be a popular English author who spent a large part of his career in the royal courts of England. He chiefly worked in the courts of Queen Elizabeth I and her son James I. He was renowned for indelicate humor during his services at the English courts. Apart from his literary work, he is also often given the credit of inventing a flush toilet.

Sir John Harington and His Works

Sir John Harington was a popular literary figure during his lifetime as he contributed a lot in writings, poetry etc. His literary prowess was fully admired by the people at that time. In 1591, he translated the Orlando Furioso. Other than that his letters and Epigrams are known to be his masterpieces in which he described the Social life in the Elizabethan era and also sketches of writings.

Bathroom Why a Bathroom Is Called a John

Although, John Harington didn’t have any knowledge of the medical science, yet he made an attempt to translate the Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum from Latin to English in 1608. However, the major work from which he gained a lot of popularity includes ‘A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax’. It was this work that his name is marked against the invention and development of the flush toilet.

In Elizabethan era, the word used for toilet or privy are ‘a jacks’ or ‘a jakes’. It was in The Metamorphosis of Ajax in which he discussed the detailed construction process of a flush toilet. Perhaps, this is the only reason that the name John is used as a euphemism for bathroom or toilet.

Looking into the Euphemism

At a first glance, you find The Metamorphosis of Ajax as a lengthy description of how to make a flush bathroom or toilet. However, his work is something more than just a chunk of instructional material. He was the first who use the flush toilet in his mansion at Kelston. Although, we can’t directly called John Harington the inventor of flush toilet, his invention truly make the basis for present day toilet or bathroom.

The Metamorphosis of Ajax was published under his pseudonym Misacmos. The book was published in 1596 and in that book Harington implicitly attacked the then royalty. Although, his book gained a lot of popularity, he was banished from the queen’s court as a result.

After the death of the Queen Elizabeth I, his fortunes further ebbed. He was also put into prison as surety for his cousin’s debts but later he escaped from the jail in 1603. Later, in his life he was made the Knight of Bath by James I when his loyalty was proved and also his forfeited property returned to him. In spite of this, he never gained the social status that he enjoyed in his early life in the England.

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