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An outhouse marked WC


From Middle English outhous, equivalent to out- +‎ house. Compare Old Norse úthús (outhouse).


outhouse (plural outhouses)

  1. (Canada, US) An outbuilding—typically permanentcontaining a toilet or seat over a cesspit.
  2. (dated) Any outbuilding: any small structure located apart from a main building.

Usage notesEdit

Like many terms for places where humans urinate and defecate, the sense of the word outhouse referring to an outbuilding housing a cesspit has euphemistic aspects to its origins (just as with privy, toilet, restroom, bathroom, water closet, and indeed most of the synonyms of this sense), as the sense of outhouse meaning any outbuilding predates the cesspit-building (sub)sense; regardless, as that sense is now the dominant sense, writers now tend to say outbuilding when they mean an outbuilding without further specification, to avoid invoking either confusion or (even merely) connotation—which is to say, to avoid even a whiff of the dominant sense.



Derived termsEdit


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