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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 and notes on love as well as derogatory (sharing low opinions) 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 -analia, 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. ^ Green, Penelope (3 January 2008). "Anarchy Rules: The Dishes Stay Dirty". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Salyers, Christopher D. (2006). CBGB: Decades of Graffiti. ISBN 0977282759.
  3. ^ "Rock's Scariest Bathroom Immortalized in 'CBGB: The Movie'".
  4. ^ [permanent dead link] 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}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links[edit]