thunder +‎ box; in the sense of a toilet, presumed to be because of the noises that may be made while using it, especially while defecating.


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thunderbox (plural thunderboxes)

  1. (historical) A close-stool, a stool enclosing a chamber pot.
  2. (Britain, Australia, slang) An outhouse or latrine: a rudimentary outdoor toilet.
    • 1974 June 13, Donald Gould, "A Groundling′s Notebook: Ice Waterloo" in the New Scientist, page 708:
      Meantime the ICE experts are poring over their photographs, and making measurements, which, presumably, will go into a computer, and out will come the specification for the perfect thunderbox.
    • 1979, The Bulletin, Vol. 100, page 35:
      In the old days, when there was a corrugated iron thunderbox, the Holts′ guests were told to approach it with caution: where other thunderboxes had redback spiders, the local ones tended to have taipans.
    • 2004, Jayne Seagrave, Camping With Kids[1], page 20:
      The first are the pit toilets — “thunderboxes” — boxes painted white inside, centrally located in various sections of the campground. The second type of toilet looks like a thunderbox but houses an odour-free flushing toilet.
    • 2005, Benedict le Vay, Eccentric Britain, 2nd, page 57:
      He boobytrapped the ‘thunderbox’ and the next guardsman who sat down was met by a deafening blast. The guardsman and plastic loo seat were hurled one way, the loo paper another, but there were no injuries.
    • 2007, Shelley Birse, Blue Water High[2], page 230:
      And finally he pointed to an old thunderbox and shovel. ‘Our toilet block.’
      Everyone except Fly stared at that old thunderbox like it was from Mars.
  3. A box of metal balls used to create a thunder sound effect.
    Synonym: thunder run
    • 1991, Inger Mattsson, Gustavian opera (page 101)
      At a given signal they are allowed to drop to the floor with a crash, followed by loud peal of thunder from the thunderbox.