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Thomas Crapper Day

"Where's the crapper?" you've likely said or heard someone say. But did you know that you weren't just using a slang word for excrement, but were actually mentioning someone's name? Although Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet—that is usually credited to John Harrington in 1596—he did help perfect and popularize it. We celebrate him today, on the anniversary of his death, which happened in 1910.

Born in Thorne, South Yorkshire, England, in 1836, Crapper founded the Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in 1866, in London. He patented and manufactured "sanitary appliances." Among his patents are four for drain improvements, three for water closets, one for pipe joints, and one for manhole covers. His plumbing products were used by the British royal family, and his manhole covers were used at Westminster Abbey. He is also associated with an invention that allowed a toilet to flush when it was only half full, but this was not actually his invention, it belonged to Albert Giblins. Crapper was the first to make bathroom fixture showrooms and talked proudly about toilets at a time when not many did.

So how did the word "crapper" become a common slang term for the toilet? American soldiers in Europe during World War I saw the word "Crapper" emblazoned on toilets, and thought it was pretty funny that crap was going in them, so they started calling them that. As for "crap" itself? It appears to be a form of the Middle Dutch word "krappe," which means "anything cut off or separated."

How to Observe

Celebrate the day by sitting on a toilet. It would be best if you could find a real Crapper brand toilet for this. While relaxing on the crapper, you could read Flushed With Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper.

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