lav·​a·​to·​ry | \ ˈla-və-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce lavatory (audio) , British -və-t(ə-)rē\
plural lavatories

Definition of lavatory

1 : a vessel (such as a basin) for washing especially : a fixed bowl or basin with running water and drainpipe for washing
2 : a room with conveniences for washing and usually with one or more toilets the airplane's lavatory

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Other Words from lavatory

lavatory adjective

Synonyms for lavatory


bath, bathroom, bog [British], can, cloakroom [British], comfort station, convenience [chiefly British], head, john, latrine, loo [chiefly British], potty, restroom, toilet, washroom, water closet

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Examples of lavatory in a Sentence

a wide choice of lavatories on sale at plumbing supply stores the school's filthy, broken-down lavatories were a disgrace

Recent Examples on the Web

Over the summer, a handful of teachers and staffers at Warren Middle School in Forney volunteered and broke out art supplies to decorate the girls and boys lavatories with positive, uplifting messages. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Texas middle school's 'bathroom inspiration project' aims to empower students," 13 Sep. 2018 Twin-aisle planes, typically used for international flights, are required to have an accessible lavatory. Joshua Brockman, New York Times, "For Disabled Travelers, Technology Helps Smooth the Way. But Not All of It.," 25 June 2018 The House installed its first lavatory for women lawmakers in 2011. Washington Post, "For Duckworth, a baby will bring down yet another barrier," 19 Feb. 2018 Airlines and advocates negotiated a broad compromise in 2016 to make accessible lavatories in new planes. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Lost bags, airline fees: Protections for travelers rights stall under Trump," 19 Jan. 2018 And frequent lavatory users should always take an aisle seat. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "How to Function After a Red-Eye Flight, According to 21 Seasoned Travelers," 16 Aug. 2018 Sink, Memoirs pedestal lavatory in White finish; towel ring, Pinstripe in Polished Chrome—Kohler (M); House Beautiful, "September 2011 Issue Product Guide," 29 June 2011 The seat to get: One of the 30 lie-flat business-class seats is the way to go; row 5 is farthest from the lavatories. Sarah Khan, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Case for Booking an Ultra-Long Flight," 10 Oct. 2018 After landing Monday night in New York, the teen allegedly ran to a lavatory in the middle of an American Airlines aircraft and had a miscarriage, while her sister waited outside the door, the New York Post reports. Kitty Stryker, Teen Vogue, "The Fetus Found in an Airplane Bathroom May Have Been Left by a Miscarrying Teen," 9 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lavatory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lavatory

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lavatory

Middle English lavatorie, from Medieval Latin lavatorium, from Latin lavare to wash — more at lye

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Dictionary Entries near lavatory





lavatory paper



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Time Traveler for lavatory

The first known use of lavatory was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of lavatory

formal : a room with a toilet and sink
US, technical : a bathroom sink


lav·​a·​to·​ry | \ ˈla-və-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce lavatory (audio) \
plural lavatories

Kids Definition of lavatory

1 : a small sink (as in a bathroom)
2 : a room for washing that usually has a toilet

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More from Merriam-Webster on lavatory

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lavatory

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lavatory

Spanish Central: Translation of lavatory

Nglish: Translation of lavatory for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lavatory for Arabic Speakers

Comments on lavatory

What made you want to look up lavatory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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