lav·​a·​to·​ry | \ˈla-və-ˌtȯr-ē, 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

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

The lavatories will clean themselves after each use. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "This New Luxury Airline Is Offering Private Jet Travel at a Fraction of the Price," 9 July 2018 The faucets atomize water, breaking it into a fine mist that still comes out fast enough to clean hands, allowing lavatory-goers to use some 90 percent less. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "Seven Airplane Innovations That Could Change How We Travel," 30 May 2018 Other intriguing ideas from the Aircraft Interiors Expo include Boeing's lavatory floor concept, made of super absorbent material, to keep things as dry and un-gross as possible. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "Bunkbeds in the Cargo Hold Trumpet a New Golden Age of Flying," 19 Apr. 2018 Over the 10 flights, the researchers took 229 samples of cabin air and swabs of surfaces like tray tables, seat belt buckles and lavatory door handles. Karen Kaplan,, "To avoid germs on an airplane, consider booking a window seat," 20 Mar. 2018 Now if only someone could make the lavatory less claustrophobic. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "Seven Airplane Innovations That Could Change How We Travel," 30 May 2018 Air Canada Flight 797, a DC-9 flying from Dallas to Toronto in 1983, had a substantial fire in the aft lavatory. John Cox, USA TODAY, "Accidents that changed aviation: Controlling in-flight fires," 10 June 2018 Add a classy amenities kit, large lavatories, and copious food and coach fliers might not even miss the business class bar. Barbara Peterson, Town & Country, "The Best Airlines to Fly Coach," 29 Sep. 2016 Details about the lavatories include whether the bathrooms have a wheelchair-accessible stall or a changing table. Steve Annear,, "Boston now has an interactive map that lets you find the closest public bathroom," 5 June 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



Statistics for lavatory

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for lavatory

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

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More Definitions for lavatory



English Language Learners Definition of lavatory

: a room with a toilet and sink

: a bathroom sink


lav·​a·​to·​ry | \ˈla-və-ˌtȯr-ē \
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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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).


to express warning or disapproval

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