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    #1

    Exclamation #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    Upon reading an expanation of the origin of #1 and # 2 when using the bathroom, I feel I have to respond. This old expression comes from Europe. Europeans have always tried to preserve on water. They have, for many years, used a short flush (#1) and a long (#2) when using the toilet. This practice is still being used. You can take that to the bank.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    The "short flush" and "long flush" buttons are a fairly recent addition to toilet cisterns in the UK. However, the use of "number one" to refer to peeing and "number 2" to refer to defecating has been in existence (when talking to children) for much longer.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by kgreeney View Post
    Europeans have always tried to save water.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    Hmmm 'Europeans have always tried to preserve on water'. I'm not convinced by kgreeney's Member Information. And I'm sick of having folk etymologies sold to me with that unquestionable take that to the bank attitude, particularly in the face of evidence to the contrary. As emsr2d2 said, this usage has been around since long before WCs were 'smart' enough to have dual-flush siphons. Etymonline says 'Slang number one and number two for "urination" and "defecation" attested from 1902.' The dual-flush siphon was developed by the bio-tech company Caroma. Wikipedia says
    It was proposed by Victor Papanek in his 1976 book Design for the real world,[1] but the first practical implementation was designed by Australian inventor Bruce Thompson in 1980...

    The coincidence of 'number one/two' fitting the dual-flush system is an accident that revisionist folk etymologists have latched onto, presumably in the hope that the audience won't do their homework and see the obvious truth that the supposed 'derivation' is a load of hooey.

    b

    PS It's occurred to me that the supposed neologiser travelled 80 years forwards through a wormhole and... [scrub that they weren't invented yet either.]
    Last edited by BobK; 14-Dec-2014 at 21:31. Reason: Added Caroma link

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    It appears that the "banK" is unreliable.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    But I imagine the two may have been related - but in the minds of designers of the user interface [that's my IT background coming out - as someone explained the jargon to me 'A door-knob is the UI of a door'] of dual-flush cisterns. When thinking of mnemonics for the two sorts of flush, '1/2' came easily to mind. (That said, in the UK I've never seen '1/2' labels on the flush buttons; usually they're just different sizes of dot.)

    b

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    #7

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    I presume this is a follow-on to this thread: https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...ta-go-number-2

  6. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    I was wondering.

    b

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    #9

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    The flush idea is tempting, but older toilets that I remember tended to use chains from overhead cisterns- was there a way of controlling them?

  7. Grumpy's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: #1 and #2 meaning when using the toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    The flush idea is tempting, but older toilets that I remember tended to use chains from overhead cisterns- was there a way of controlling them?
    Not in my (considerable) experience of these systems. In fact, it often required quite a bit of expertise to get them to flush at all. I generally found that several gentle, exploratory tugs part way, (priming the pump, so to speak) followed by a smooth and confident pull to the full extension, generally did the trick.

    Honi soit qui mal y pense...
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

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