Sunday, April 18, 2010

On The Naming Of Toilet Paper

One of my favorite oddities in the English language is the existence of words with negative prefixes that have no positive counterpart.  Frustratingly, if turned on their heads, many of these would make great words.  Who wouldn't like to say they were gruntled, tressed, mayed or even combobulated?  If we had the utmost respect for someone we could hold them in dain, or if something looked really appetizing, it could be gusting.

There aren't nearly enough examples of these wonderful new words in use, but when they are, they are not always used to the best effect.  You might even say their use is tuitive.

Abnormal, for example, is the opposite of normal, n'est-ce pas?  So, the opposite of absorbent would naturally be, well, Sorbent.  Do I want a water-repelling toilet paper?  No.  I do not.  But on examination, other toilet papers are equally poorly named.  As astrocave once pointed out to me, he never uses "Safe" toilet paper.  Is it because he doesn't like its homely brown colour or vaguely abrasive feel?  No, he says he simply likes the more dangerous kind.  And a more dangerous kind might well be Aldi's "Clarissa" - I for one feel quite uncomfortable with the idea of using one of the Two Fat Ladies in the smallest room.  Likewise, their sensibly priced "Enviro Friend" makes me want to look for alternatives.  Anything with "friend" in its name should not be subjected to the ultimate indignity that is the fate of all toilet paper.  Which is why I also avoid "Scott."

Toilet paper nomenclature often abides by the principle that a scientific suffix supercharges the word it is added to.  Hence "Kleenex" is super-clean, "Purex" is super-pure, "Softex" is super-soft, "Hygenex"is super-germ-free and "Quilton" is super-quilty.  Which invites the uncomfortable analogy of using your bedding.  It is in no way turbing.

And the supermarkets' home brands are no better: Coles' "Smart Buy" is pointing out the obvious - it is, after all, stupid not to buy toilet paper, and "Black and Gold" is a misnomer.  I guess "Off-white" just wouldn't sell.  And why anyone thought "Encore" would be a great name for something that you ideally want to use only once is also a mystery.

In fact, the whole thing is describably silly.


  1. You have certainly displayed your norance here. Perhaps, as a renowned toilet paper buff and labrador proprietor, you can explain why they use puppies on their ads? Is it because of the natural association between labradors and hygiene?

    I hope you can clear up any derstanding I may have.

  2. Despite their ability to clean up faecal matter from any species, the labrador is not especially renowned for its hygiene standards. The truth is actually a little more uncomfortable: until the late nineteenth century toilet paper was made from the pelts of labrador puppies. This was expensive, and was also the primary cause of the tenacious and embarrassing flea infestation of 1894 that led to banning of the practice.

    Of course in those days, people had hibitions towards the treatment of animals. Today we are more enlightened and make toilet paper out of native animals only.

  3. Wow, compared to you I feel really telligent.

  4. You could be less telligent if you were more dolent, and more pathetic about improving yourself. Be less dustrious and more dulgent - remember only ertia will bring success and famy.


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