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Bidet Definition

How the Bidet Definition is Misunderstood in the U.S.

define bidet

Imagine this: you’re standing in the bathroom of a fancy hotel and there’s a bidet. You’ve heard of them before. The bee-day. The bum gun. The thing that sprays your butt to get the poop off. You know -  that thing. But how do you use one? You’re supposed to straddle it like a tiny horse, right? But only if you’re a woman, because bidets are only for women. And also for Japanese people. These things are inherently true, right?

It’s tongue-in-cheek, obviously, but these are some of the common misunderstandings that surround the bidet’s definition in the U.S. While most people understand, at least generally, that bidets are designed to keep the bum and nether regions clean, it can be tough for people to understand exactly how this works, or what misinformation they’re actually carrying around with them.


Bidet Definition 101: What’s in a Name?

If you haven’t heard, bidet comes from the French word meaning “tiny horse.” This is because, at least with standard bidets, you used them by straddling them like (you guessed it), a tiny horse.

Today, most bidets are integrated with actual toilet seats, which technically makes them washlets. Pioneered by Japanese toilet seat maker, Toto, these washlet models offer the convenience and hygienic perks of the bidet, without the requirement for extra square footage and a deep squat.

If you’ve got additional questions about the evolution of the bidet, check out our exhaustive infographic on the topic.


What the Bidet is Not

Understanding the bidet definition means also understanding what bidets are not and what they do not do.


A Bidet is no Longer a Bathroom Fixture

Once upon a time, around 1710, the bidet lived in the bedroom. This was the day of bedside chamber pots, and the French royal family was one of the first to install one of these unique little ditties next to their beds. This first bidet installation was largely credited to Christophe des Rosiers, who is also thought to be the person who come up with the bidet the first time.


Bidets Were Not Only Used by Prostitutes

One of the things that contributed to the slow adoption of the bidet by the U.S. population is the fact that American soldiers frequently saw bidets in the rooms of prostitutes during World War II. This, however, isn’t nearly enough information to build an entire case on.

While these soldiers came home and spread the idea that bidets were vehicles of immorality, it’s much more likely that the prostitutes were simply of French descent and knew a thing or two about the relative silliness of toilet paper.


Bidets Aren’t Generally Standalone Instruments Anymore

Bidets don’t take up a whole separate place in your bathroom anymore. Instead, they integrate with a bidet toilet seat and offer the same functionality in a tiny package.

This makes them ideal for small spaces and houses that don’t have the additional space to allow for a whole separate unit. What’s more, these bidets are also easier to use than their standalone counterparts and are more approachable for people who have never used a bidet before.


Bidets Aren’t Rare

While it’s true that bidets might be rare on U.S. soil (Careful, though - their numbers are increasing), they’re a feature in about half of Japanese households and have sold more than 17 million units in that country. This makes them easily some of the most popular self-cleaning units in the country.


4 Different Ways to Define Bidet

By now, you probably have a pretty good definition of what a bidet isn’t, but that doesn’t cover the base of what a bidet is, for so many people.

While the function of a bidet seems pretty straightforward, it means something a bit different to everyone who uses it. Here are a few of the ways someone who loves these bum-washers might define bidet:


  1. A Bidet is a Relaxation Device

You’ve got kids. Your life is chaos. You can hardly go pee without someone banging down the door and sobbing for your return. You need a break. If you identify with any of these realities, a bidet could well be your path to a few minutes of spa-time every day.

While bidets come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and types, the more advanced models all offer a series of unique features. These features commonly include relaxation and comfort measures like built-in, automatic seat warmers, warm air dryers, warm water spray with adjustable range, pressure, and position, and even lullabye features. 

Sure - these things are designed to make your time in the bathroom a little more pleasurable, but they go deeper than that. They’re also meant to support your overall health, ease discomfort, and make your bathroom into a tiny escape, even when there are miniature humans banging like zombies on the locked door.


  1. A Bidet is an Essential Hygiene Tool

Bidets are much more than just a tool for the hypochondriacs among us. In fact, bidets can be incredibly important hygiene tools for those with health issues and those without.

Because a bidet cleans the rectal and genital area much more efficiently than toilet paper (shocker, we know, that rough paper and your hand aren’t top-tier cleaning devices), they reduce bacterial growth rates, slash your chance of infection, reduce irritation from excessive wiping, and can even help prevent issues like UTIs.

This improved hygiene has far-reaching health effects and can go a long way to help you live a happier and cleaner life.


  1. Bidets are a Cool Tech Device

No matter how you feel about bathroom hygiene, it goes without saying that bidets are seriously impressive tech devices. If you’ve never been infatuated with a toilet seat that sings, lights up, opens or closes automatically, offers a warm air dryer, or deodorizes your toilet bowl for you, now is a great time.

Modern bidet toilet seats are designed to retrofit your existing toilet, plugging in easily in place of your current toilet seat and overhauling your entire bathroom. They’re an inexpensive and simple way to add some serious tech to your bathroom, and are a fantastic item for anyone who appreciates form and function in consumer devices.


  1. Bidets are a Self-Cleaning Miracle

One of the most common misconceptions about bidets is that they’re dirty or hard to clean. Fortunately, neither of those things is true.

Bidets offer lots of self-cleaning features, including retractable nozzles, self-sterilizing spray heads, pre-misted toilet bowls (this handy little feature helps keep your bowl clean and reduce flush volume), and more. Some bidet toilet seats even feature an easy snap on- and off- feature, which makes the seat simple to remove for a wipe-down.

All these things combine to make bidet toilet seats much easier to clean than a standard seat. Believe it or not, a bidet seat can be beautiful, techy, and less demanding of elbow grease than your other seat. How’s that for multi-functional?


Define Bidet Any Way You Want to!

While there’s lots of pressure out there to define bidet as some narrowly-purposed, bum-cleaning device, the fact is that these handy little units serve a few dozen purposes all at once. Add one to your bathroom and you’ll quickly see that you can define bidet any way it seems fit for you!


Why Adding a Bidet to Your Home is So Smart

If you’re stoked that you now know the bidet definition so many Americans don’t, it may be time to consider adding one of these snazzy units to your home. Ideal for keeping your bum clean and your bathroom fancy, these bidet units can enhance your bathroom experience and make it that much more positive for you and your friends and family!