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I've noticed sometimes in polite company or in the company of strangers some people will saying they are going to wash their hands 去洗手 (qù xǐshǒu) instead of going to the toilet 去上厕所 (qù shàng cèsuǒ).

Alternatively, asking for the 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) instead of the 厕所 (cèsuǒ).

Is this something that should be copied? Does it matter for guys, is this more feminine to say 洗手?

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I highly doubt 洗手 is more feminine. The two terms are basically synonymous for bathroom/toilet, but you could say 洗手 is more like an euphemism –  Zhanger Dec 15 '11 at 10:11
补妆 is more feminine not 洗手 –  AntiGameZ Dec 15 '11 at 10:14
Lucky you don't have friends like mine, some of the boys just go 拉屎 (lit. pull a shit) which I think sounds pretty nasty! –  Ciaocibai Dec 15 '11 at 10:29
@Ciaocibai: That is a bit funny 8-) –  dr Hannibal Lecter Dec 15 '11 at 15:34
厕所 could sound unrefined... My mother told me when I was a child that I should say 卫生间 instead of 厕所... –  user58955 Sep 23 '13 at 6:46
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1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Roughly speaking, 洗手间 = bathroom/restroom and 厕所 = toilet.

洗手 literally means wash hands. It's not feminine, it's just more polite as you mentioned.

You can use either in most cases. You would use 洗手间 while eating or when talking to someone you don't know very well.

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