Come on, this one HAS to be true! Even if it's not, can't we all just agree to continue saying that Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet? This little pseudo-fact has been making fourth-graders giddy for centuries. While we're at it, let's start the rumor that the lollipop was invented by a Swiss woman named Ivana Lix, and the man who invented tar for sealing driveways was the Belgian Prince Philip de Cracken.
Yes, Thomas Crapper was a 19th-century plumber and manufacturer whose brand of "water closets" — gained widespread popularity in his native England. But no, Mr. Crapper did not invent the life-altering item that often bore his name. Flush toilets were already installed in finer households by the time young Crapper started his plumber apprenticeship as a child in the 1840s. And sadly for irony-lovers, the word crappe is a 13th-century word for waste, so it was likely in use for toilet-related matters before Mr. Crapper got into the business [source: Lienhard].
The true inventor of the flush toilet was likely Sir John Harington, a 16th-century English poet, translator, rogue and occasional inventor who installed one of his ingenious "loos" for Queen Elizabeth at her country palace in Surrey [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]. If you ever wondered why toilets are called "johns," wonder no more [source: Levitz].