- The person to whom we are indebted for the flushing toilet is Thomas Crapper, the scatologists' favorite son.Sir Thomas Crapper (1837-1910) was born in Yorkshire, England. In the 1870s, he invented the modern toilet bowl, which consisted of a float, a metal arm, and siphonic action to empty the reservoir, enabling the bowl to be flushed without having the water run continuously. Crapper was known as the inventor of the water-waste preventer, and that became the name of this product when first used in England. An invention by the ancient Romans carried away human waste. Crapper's invention made the use of the bowl more efficient in that it shut off the running water after it had served its purpose, and he thus made a lasting contribution to our comfort.Crapper's name is an unlucky coincidence. The Dutch, through their word krappe ("scraps"), gave us crap, which for centuries has been used for excrement. But crap is more often used to mean nonsense: "What you're telling me is a lot of crap."
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.