AskDefine | Define bidet

Dictionary Definition

bidet n : a basin for washing genitals and anal area

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. a low-mounted plumbing fixture or type of sink intended for washing the external genitalia and the anus





Extensive Definition

A bidet is a low-mounted plumbing fixture or type of sink intended for washing the genitalia, inner buttocks, and anus. Originally a French word, in English bidet is (US) or /ˈbiːdeɪ/ (UK).


Bidet is a French word for pony (and in Old French, bider meant to trot). This etymology comes from the fact that one rides a bidet much like one does a pony.
Marc-Antoine Jacoud is known as the inventor of the bidet. The bidet appears to have been an invention of French furniture makers in the late 17th or early 18th century, although no exact date or inventor is known. Theories exist that its inventor is Christophe Des Rosiers, furniture maker for the French Royal Family. The earliest written reference to the bidet is in 1710. By 1900, due to plumbing improvements, the bidet (and chamber pot) moved from the bedroom to the bathroom. 1960 saw the introduction of the electronic bidet, an attachment which connects on to existing toilet arrangements — ideal for bathrooms lacking the space for a separate bidet and toilet.


Bidets are primarily used to wash and clean the genitalia, inner buttocks, and anus. They may also be used to clean any other part of the body; they are very convenient for cleaning the feet, for example. Despite appearing similar to a toilet, it would be more accurate to compare it to the washbasin or bathtub. In fact, the bidet is used by some for a baby bath.
Users who are unfamiliar with bidets often confuse a bidet with a urinal, toilet, or even a drinking fountain. It is generally understood that the user should sit on a bidet facing the tap and nozzle but may also sit with back to the tap and wall.
It is a common misconception that bidets (at least in France and Europe generally) are meant to be used as an alternative or addition to toilet paper. Rather, they are more like sinks for one's morning and evening wash known as "toilette" in French. Bidets offer an excellent way to refresh oneself before bed without taking a full shower. Instead, toilettes are performed using a sink to wash face and underarms and a bidet for between the legs and occasionally the feet. This has the virtue of using much less water and not stripping the body and hair of its natural oils. Bidets are also very useful for the elderly or anyone with mobility problems and for people with hemorrhoids. For drying, people usually use a small personal towel.
Bidets are made in several different designs. They may have one tap which pours (usually warm) water into a china basin. The basin can be plugged and filled if necessary, or the water can be allowed to drain away. Other bidets have a nozzle which propels an arc of water up into the air. This jet of water is angled to easily attain the perianal and genital area.
Bidets are common bathroom fixtures in some European countries (especially France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece), some Latin American countries (especially Argentina and Uruguay; there they are found in approximately 90% of households), the Middle East and some parts of Asia (particularly in Japan and South Korea). Although France is the country where the word bidet originated, not every house there is equipped with one, especially the smaller or cheaper flats.
Residents of countries where bidets in private homes are rare may be totally unfamiliar with bidets and have no idea how to use them if they encounter them. It is said that many American men first encountered bidets in French brothels during WWII and thought they were designed for the prostitutes to douche (inside the vagina) after sexual intercourse. This may be a source of resistance against their use in the United States.
Another possible source of resistance to bidet usage in the United States is the perception of the uncleanliness of the device. The nozzle in some old designs was often in the path of the returning (dirty) water. The concern being that the user might be contaminated with the fecal matter and detritus of the previous user. Toilet paper is seen as a less effective, yet more hygienic solution. But as stated above, this stems from the misconception of their intended use as being for cleaning after using the toilet. Such negative misconceptions continue to be widespread and may be difficult for bidet manufacturers to dispel as it remains taboo to discuss toilet habits and personal hygiene in public in many societies. Still, bidets are sometimes found in US private bathrooms but are generally considered a high luxury. Indeed, when sold in the US, they are often several times the price of a comparable sink, which is not the case in Europe.
In contrast, residents of countries where the bidet is found in almost every private residence, find it difficult to change their habits when they travel in countries where bidets are rare. The only alternative to a bidet in such cases is to use the bathtub or a showerhead (if it can reach the toilet).

Integration of toilet and bidet

A bidet may also be a nozzle attached to an existing toilet, or a part of the toilet itself. In this case, its use is restricted to cleaning the anus and genitals. Some bidets of this type have two nozzles, the shorter one, called the family nozzle, is used for washing the area around the anus, and the longer one (bidet nozzle) is designed for women to wash their vulva. These bidets are often controlled electronically rather than with a traditional tap, and some have an element under the seat which heats up to dry the user after washing. These bidet toilets have been popular in countries like India, and Sri Lanka since British colonial days, as the use of just dry toilet paper to clean the perianal area is considered dirty and unhygienic in these tropical regions. The nozzle is sometimes controlled with an external tap within the reach of the hand. Traditionally, local style squatting toilets have been more common in India and are more convenient to most Indians, especially of the lower classes. But with the rise of westernization, western style pots have started becoming more common, and the most convenient way to wash the perianal area with these pots is simply to attach a bidet nozzle.
In 1980 the first "paperless toilet" was launched in Japan, a combination toilet and bidet which also dries the user after washing. Combination toilet-bidets with seat warmers, or "washlets", are particularly popular in Japan and South Korea, found in approximately 60% of households. They are commonly found in hotels and even some public facilities. These bidet-toilets, along with toilet seat/bidet units (to convert an existing toilet) are sold in many countries including the United States. Google headquarters in Mountain View, California has them installed. For details see toilets in Japan.
Bidet attachments are sometimes included on hospital toilets because of their utility in maintaining hygiene. Currently (2007) in the U.S., bidets are not widespread due in part to their cost ($400+), but are becoming increasingly popular, as witnessed by the increase in Toilet Seat Bidet market offerings and companies involved. In countries where the bidet is very common, prices are much lower. In Italy, for example, the price for a bidet seldom exceeds €200 (about $300 USD), and it is not uncommon to find bidets priced as low as €40 (about $60 USD), especially in do-it-yourself stores. An alternative in the USA would be buying a bidet attachment for regular American toilets. Many bidet retailers now offer toilet attachments that range from $79 to $650. In Middle Eastern countries, bidet attachments are much cheaper, being priced at around the equivalent of $10-20 USD, which is attributed to their popularity and availability.
Toilet seat bidet attachments are also becoming increasingly popular with the aging community. Many companies make bidet seat attachments that include remote controls to activate the water jets and air dryer. These conveniently placed remote controls may particularly benefit any individual with limited mobility.

Handheld bidet

The handheld bidet has been around for many years, and is widely used in Asia. Typically made of plastic or metal, it is a simple bidet system that can be attached to an existing toilet. In most cases, it is easy to install with simple plumbing tools, so that it draws water from the existing water tank. This type of bidet is becoming popular in Europe and the US.
bidet in Czech: Bidet
bidet in German: Bidet
bidet in Spanish: Bidé
bidet in Esperanto: Bideo
bidet in French: Bidet
bidet in Italian: Bidet
bidet in Hebrew: בידה
bidet in Dutch: Bidet
bidet in Japanese: ビデ
bidet in Norwegian: Bidet
bidet in Polish: Bidet
bidet in Portuguese: Bidê
bidet in Russian: Биде
bidet in Serbian: Биде
bidet in Swedish: Bidé
bidet in Turkish: Bide
bidet in Chinese: 坐浴桶
bidet in Contenese: 坐浴桶

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aquamanile, automatic dishwasher, basin, bath, bathtub, carriage horse, cart horse, cavalry horse, dishpan, dishwasher, draft horse, dray horse, driving horse, ewer, fill horse, filler, finger bowl, gigster, hack, hackney, hunter, jument, kitchen sink, lavabo, lavatory, lead, leader, mount, pack horse, palfrey, piscina, plow horse, pole horse, polo pony, post-horse, remount, rider, riding horse, road horse, roadster, rouncy, saddle horse, saddler, shaft horse, shower, shower bath, shower curtain, shower head, shower room, shower stall, showers, sink, stalking-horse, sumpter, sumpter horse, thill horse, thiller, tub, wash barrel, wash boiler, washbasin, washbowl, washdish, washer, washing machine, washing pot, washpot, washstand, washtub, wheeler, wheelhorse, workhorse
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