pants

pants
In BrE pants (plural noun) means ‘underpants’, whereas in AmE it means ‘trousers or slacks’. The distinction can cause problems:

• I heard an American student at Cambridge University telling some English friends how he climbed over a locked gate to get into his college and tore his pants, and one of them asked in confusion, ‘But how could you tear your pants without tearing your trousers?’ —N. Moss, 1973.

In attributive use (i.e. before another noun), pants tends to be used in general contexts in both BrE and AmE, and pant or pants in fixed combinations such as pant suit:

• I took a jackknife out of my pants pocket —R. B. Parker, 1974

• Then we went downtown and bought pant suits —L. Ellmann, 1988.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pants — ► PLURAL NOUN 1) Brit. underpants or knickers. 2) chiefly N. Amer. trousers. 3) Brit. informal rubbish; nonsense. ● catch someone with their pants (or trousers) down Cf. ↑catch someone with their trousers down ● …   English terms dictionary

  • pants — [ pænts ] noun plural ** 1. ) AMERICAN a piece of clothing that covers your body from your waist to your ANKLES and has a separate part for each leg: TROUSERS 2. ) BRITISH UNDERPANTS beat the pants off INFORMAL 1. ) to defeat an opponent easily 2 …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • pants — /pants/, n. (used with a pl. v.) 1. trousers (def. 1). 2. underpants, esp. for women and children; panties. 3. Brit. men s underpants, esp. long drawers. 4. wear the pants, to have the dominant role; be in charge: I guess we know who wears the… …   Universalium

  • pants — (n.) 1840, see PANTALOONS (Cf. pantaloons). Colloquial singular pant is attested from 1893. To wear the pants be the dominant member of a household is first attested 1931. To do something by the seat of (one s) pants by human instinct is from… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pants — n. 1. n. pl. A garment extending from the waist to the knee or ankle, covering each leg separately. Syn: trousers. [WordNet 1.6] 2. Underpants. Syn: drawers. [PJC] 3. Specifically: Underpants worn by women; panties. Syn: bloomers, drawers,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pants — ☆ pants [pants ] pl.n. [abbrev. of PANTALOONS] 1. an outer garment extending from the waist to the knees or ankles and divided into separate coverings for the legs: more formally called trousers 2. drawers or panties: As an adjective or in… …   English World dictionary

  • Pants — (short for “pantaloons”) may refer to the following:* Trousers (North American English), an outer garment covering the lower half of the body, encasing each leg separately * Underpants (British English), an undergarment covering the genital… …   Wikipedia

  • pants — (ingl.; Guat., Méj.) m. *Chándal …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • pants — s.m.pl. ES ingl. {{wmetafile0}} TS abbigl. pantaloncini corti, spec. da donna {{line}} {{/line}} DATA: 1971. ETIMO: propr. accorc. di pantaloons pantaloni …   Dizionario italiano

  • pants — /pænts/ s. ingl. [propr., accorc. di pantaloons pantaloni ], usato in ital. al masch. pl. (abbigl.) [pantaloni corti] ▶◀ [➨ pantaloncino] …   Enciclopedia Italiana

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.