Meaning of spend a penny in English:

spend a penny


informal British
  • Used euphemistically to refer to a need to urinate.

    • ‘you can't get to sleep when you want to spend a penny’
    • ‘For years drinkers at The Sally Pussey Inn in Swindon Road have been spending a penny in the avocado-coloured urinals blissfully unaware that they may be worth quite a few pounds.’
    • ‘At the Lindale Post Office and General Store, villagers have been spending pounds on the National Lottery to ensure people can go on spending a penny in the public toilet.’
    • ‘Supt Lacy said those caught spending a penny in public could be hit with maximum fines of £500.’
    • ‘Women are demanding much more for their money from city centre toilets as the cost of spending a penny in York doubled.’
    • ‘Bus drivers and travellers needing to spend a penny will have to cross their legs after the loos next to Chippenham's bus station were shut down this week.’
    • ‘‘I must just go and spend a penny,’ are his first words.’
    • ‘Users will be asked to pay a pound if they want to spend a penny.’
    • ‘For years visitors have complained about the lack of a suitable place to spend a penny in the tourist resort.’
    • ‘However, if one wanted to spend a penny in the toilets in the grounds of the local Catholic Church they can be assured of them being clean.’
    • ‘Spare a thought for the workers who count the seconds as they dash to spend a penny.’


    With reference to the coin-operated locks of public toilets.