I read in How to hide your bodily odors after a long flight? that you can take a 'sparrow bath' to freshen in an airport bathroom when traveling.

How do you take the sparrow bath?

How do you freshen yourself?

What does it constitute?

Details please. I tried searching both on the web and Wikipedia and got nowhere about it. Please share/explain the procedure.

I am trying to figure out an exact procedure while the other question is related to more generic ideas. While the idea was shared therein, it wasn't explained there at all. Even now, we have just mere speculation of what the term might mean, so its inconclusive.

  • 6
    The term does not seem to be standard in English. Your query is probably best directed to the person who posted the answer using that term, in the form of a comment on that answer.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 13:02
  • Possible duplicate of How to hide your bodily odors after a long flight?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 13:05
  • 1
    @pnuts I'm not sure this would be on-topic at ELL. Sure, you can ask there what terms and phrases mean (unless they're easy to look up, in which case it's off-topic under the "general reference" clause). However, asking for detailed instructions on how to take such a bath is off-topic at ELL. Voting to leave open.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 21:33
  • 1
    @pnuts That is fair enough. Just wanted to discourage posting such questions at ELL.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 3:58
  • @pnuts That would likely be fine, as long as the meaning of the term is not readily available in dictionaries, in which case it's closed as general reference.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 4:16

1 Answer 1


Here is a video of a sparrow taking a bath. As you can see, it's basically splashing water from the basin over your face - which as a human, it may be worth extending to splashing over parts of your body, but is basically just slang for a quick 'freshen up'.

To clarify, to freshen up - that is, wipe off some sweat, rub dust off your body - kind of like a wash by hand without removing your clothes (although you might also change clothes separately in a cubicle, you wouldn't do this by the basin in the bathroom).

  • 9
    @phoog well the other question didn't explain what a sparrow bath was, which is what the OP is asking. No?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 13:08
  • 2
    I was under the impression it was something more. As what you had shared, I had already 'sparrow bathed' in an airport, just didn't know the term :)
    – shirish
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 13:32
  • 8
    @shirish - I'm not convinced it's a standard term; it's more likely just a colorful turn of phrase by the author of the original article. It's much more common for someone to say that they "splashed some water on their face." Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 14:56
  • 8
    Probably it's a figure of speech in some language which is not English. In German you say Katzenwäsche which is like cat's bath...
    – Nobody
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 20:41
  • 2
    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas a web search suggests strongly that it definitely is not a standard phrase in English, though I'm rather partial to Nobody's hypothesis that it is a standard phrase in some other language. Perhaps the poster of the answer to the other question in which the phrase was used will weigh in (I believe it was Gagravarr).
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 4:10

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