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Restroom graffiti, People's Cafe, San Francisco

Latrinalia is a type of deliberately inscribed marking made on latrines: that is, bathrooms or lavatory walls.[1][2][3] It can take the form of art, drawings, or words, including poetry and personal reflections. Other types of latrinalia include political commentary as well as derogatory comments and pictures; when done without the property owner's consent, it constitutes vandalism. Some venues have attempted to curb such vandalism by installing in the lavatory large blackboards and providing free chalk; it is hoped that patrons will avail themselves of the blackboard and chalk rather than applying their latrinalia directly to the walls or toilet stalls.[4][5]


The late Alan Dundes, a folklorist at University of California, Berkeley, coined the term latrinalia in 1966 to refer to graffiti found in restrooms.[6] Dundes preferred it over the term shithouse poetry, as not all latrinalia is in verse or poetic form.[6]

The word is derived from the compounding of latrine (or toilet) and the suffix -alia, which signifies a worthless collection of something — in this case bathroom writings.

See also[edit]


  • Joseph Gelfer, The Little Book of Toilet Graffiti
  • Jim Morrison, Privy Thoughts: Some Toilet Graffiti Found On University Bathroom Doors


  1. ^
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  4. ^ Golden Gate [X]Press Online | R.I.P. All Your Base Are Belong To Us
  5. ^ "Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online :: Brought to you by Grand View Media". 2007-02-01. Archived from the original on 2006-05-22. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
  6. ^ a b Dundes, Alan (1966). "Here I Sit — A Study of American Latrinalia". University of California, Berkeley: Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers. Archived from the original on 2005-11-20. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links[edit]