Idiomatic Vocabulary 16: the call of nature

The Phrases

To answer the call of nature

Its Definition

A discreet and idiomatic way to say, ‘Go to the toilet’.


This is useful for IELTS because it is a fact of life, happening regularly to every single human being on earth. When relating stories, anecdotes, or when exemplifying generally, such a concept may need to be stated.

This phrase follows our rules for use in IELTS writing (being 1. Not too many words, and 2. able to be applied to many people), although it is very unlikely that such a subject matter will need to be explored in writing.

Example Sentences

In IELTS Speaking

  • “I worked for one school where the whole floor, with some 300 people, had access to two tiny toilets. If everyone had to answer the call of nature at once, it would have been horrible.”
  • “I see building sites, and they always have outdoor cubicles there for when the workman have to answer the call of nature.”

In IELTS Writing

  • With over seven billion human beings on the planet, all needing to ‘answer the call of nature’, efficient sewerage systems are now crucial.
  • [Task One, map task] The north-eastern corner of the park has provisions for those needing to respond to ‘the call of nature’.