AskDefine | Define latrine

Dictionary Definition

latrine n : a public toilet in a military area

User Contributed Dictionary



  • IPA: /ləˈtriːn/


  1. a very simple toilet facility, usually just a pit or trench. See also the slang terms john and johnny house.


Related terms



  1. Plural of latrina

Extensive Definition

A latrine (from Latin lavatrina a privy) is a structure (usually small; holding a single person) for defecation. Latrines allow for safer and more hygienic disposal of human waste than open defecation. They are used in rural areas and low-income urban communities, with significant use in the developing world. Many variations exist, but at its simplest, the reason for using a latrine is that waste is controlled and decomposed into safer by-products.
Latrine is also a term common in the US Military, specifically for the Army and Air Force for any point of entry facility where human waste is disposed of, which a civilian might call a bathroom or toilet, regardless of how modern or primitive it is.


Many forms of latrine technology have been used in the past, from utterly simple to more sophisticated, while newer developments show promise using ecological sanitation (EcoSan).
Some different types and technologies regarding latrines are:
  • Pit toilets, or pit latrines, are the simplest and cheapest type, minimally defined as a hole in the ground. The most basic improvement is installation of a floor plate. A dry pit does not penetrate the water table, while a wet pit does.
  • A Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) Latrine is one that reduces two of the most common problems with a simple pit latrine: odor and fly/mosquito breeding. Adding a ventilating pipe is the key improvement of the ventilated improved pit latrine. See Pit toilet.
  • The Double-vault Ventilated Composting Latrine is currently the most advanced, free-standing latrine. Apart from offering significant reduction in risk from waterborne disease, this type of ecological sanitation provides the closure of some nutrient cycles by allowing the safe, composted waste to be used as a "free" soil treatment in agriculture.
  • A water privy uses a watertight tank that receives the waste and sends it to an underground seepage pit or drainage area.
  • "Flying latrines" refers to plastic bags used as toilets in African slums, so named because after being filled, "you throw them as far away as you can." This has led to the banning of the manufacture and import of such bags in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
  • Reed Odourless Earth Closet (ROEC) is an improvemet of VIP latrine. Common in southern Africa.
  • Pou r-Flush Latrine
  • Cistern-Flush Toilet
  • Bucket Latrine
  • Pour-Flush Toilet and Vault.


See also

latrine in Spanish: Letrina
latrine in Esperanto: Latrino
latrine in French: Latrine
latrine in Dutch: Latrine
latrine in Quechua: Ispana ukhu
latrine in Slovak: Latrína
latrine in Swedish: Latrin

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

WC, backhouse, basement, bathroom, bedpan, can, chamber, chamber pot, chemical closet, chemical toilet, closet, comfort station, commode, convenience, crapper, earth closet, head, jerry, john, johnny, johnny house, jordan, lavatory, loo, necessary, outhouse, piss pot, potty, potty-chair, powder room, privy, rest room, stool, throne, thunder mug, toilet, toilet room, urinal, washroom, water closet
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