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In the novel 《天机》, passengers on a bus become ill after eating an unfamiliar dish. They ask the driver to stop the bus, and the male passengers, including the protagonist 叶萧, descend:


A few lines later, the women join in:


Later, there is another reference to the uncomfortable women, the “刚才露天解决的女士们。”

It seems clear to me that 解决 in the above excerpts is used as a euphemism for going to the bathroom (or, perhaps, for vomiting, but I suspect the former). The sense is clear enough, but I haven't heard this usage before.

Is 解决 a common euphemism for going to the bathroom, or is its use here justified solely by context?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

”解决“ is very common to refer go to bathroom. But it's use in context for euphemism. In Chinese, go to bathroom has so many way to express. Like, but not complete.

  1. 去洗手间
  2. 去厕所
  3. 去茅厕
  4. 出恭
  5. 解手
  6. 小解(urinate)/大解(defecate)
  7. 方便
  8. 如厕
  9. 更衣(use in ancient essay)
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The real meaning of the word is solving an issue/problem/conflict. The first context is going to the bathroom, second one sounds more like a solving a conflict, the word 解决 is not that common to use for going to bathroom, the word '方便' probably more common.

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Welcome to the site. An upvote to get you going. – Tom Au Mar 8 '12 at 14:37

解决 means "solve".

In your examples, 解决 does refer to "going to bathroom" (although they did that in the wild). However, this is a kind of euphemism to be used when the writer doesn't want to write 小便 or something else.

Also, the attempt of going to bathroom can be viewed as an effort to solve a certain problem, so 解决 can be used here.

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Thank you for your answer, but I think you have misunderstood my question. I understand both the literal and euphemistic meaning of 解决; my question was whether this usage is common. – Jon Mar 8 '12 at 16:02
@Jon As what I know, the usage is not very common in oral Chinese in Liaoning. ouya2's answer gives "方便" and it is more common. Maybe it's beacuse we are not in the wild so we can always say "我去洗手间". – coolcfan Mar 9 '12 at 1:35

It's common enough.

People would understand you if you said something like 我去解决一下。 (wǒ qù jiějué yíxià.) They might laugh, not expecting you to know this euphemism.

In this case, 解决 probably means "to dispose of" or "to eliminate". I always felt that "to eliminate" works well because eliminate is the technical term for excreting bodily waste.

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Actually, it is more appropriate in certain contexts. If you examine the examples carefully, you will find that all of them provide a clue for the meaning of 解决. The clue is the location.

  • 各自找了一小块空地解决 -> 一小块空地
  • 我们还是先下车解决掉吧 -> 下车
  • 刚才露天解决的女士们 -> 露天

解决 in those cases is actually the abbreviation of 解决大小便. At most of the time, it is only valid to use 解决 referring to 解决大小便 when certain context is provided.

When there is no such context, it is more appropriate to use 方便。

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