People have been left baffled after learning what WC stands for, despite all of us seeing it on signs every day.

When someone posted about the curious name for the toilet on Quora, a question-and-answer social media, an amateur historian was all too happy to explain what the acronym stands for.

They described it as a way to spare blushes when the flushing toilet was invented 150 years ago.

They said: “In the 19th century, the word toilet was not uttered in polite society, nor were the bodily functions associated with the use of a toilet.

“In order to avoid that, the term ‘water closet’ was invented to describe the then-new flush lavatory, particularly in public places. The acronym WC was seen as being far enough from its function to be uttered, albeit with some embarrassment and reticence.”

It is most often used in this way to describe a room in which there is a toilet but no bath or shower, so one can’t call it a bathroom.

According to plumbing website Plumbworld, the phrase ‘water closet’ was first used in England back in the 1870s. Originally known as ‘wash-down closet’, this soon became ‘water closet’ through popular usage, before evolving once again into ‘WC’.

Quora users were left shocked at the new information, with many saying they never knew what it meant or that they had guessed wrongly.

One said they had a ‘WC’ sign in their house and didn’t know what it meant and another said they had always assumed it stood for ‘wheelchair’.

Another user commented: “I’m glad someone asked because I’ve been wondering this for years but never Googled it.”

The flushing toilet was invented in 1596 by Sir Jon Harington for his godmother Queen Elizabeth. Then in 1775, Alexander Cumming got the patent for the S-pipe which kept out odours. Finally in 1885, Thomas Crapper invented the U-bend and ballcock, he manufactured the first widely successful line of flushing toilets.

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