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When do Americans say 'trousers' rather than 'pants'?


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Old 14-04-2009, 18:19
Spot
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I've just been watching Friends on E4 - it's the one where Joey is working as a waiter in the restaurant where Monica is the boss, she's going to fire him but then he has second thoughts when one of the other waiters brings him his share of the tips, Joey is surprised at how much it amounts to, and the other guy says that people tend to get quite generous around the holidays, and it never does any harm to wear tight trousers.

I have also heard the word trousers used in Frasier, though I can't recall offhand what the exact context was.

So - given that we all know that Americans generally say 'pants' instead of 'trousers', these two examples obviously mean that the word 'trousers' is nevertheless sometimes used. Does anyone know in what circumstances they would normally substitiute 'trousers' for the more usual 'pants'?
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Old 14-04-2009, 18:22
[Andy]
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Suit trousers I think?
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:00
summerain
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Suit trousers I think?
Yep, it's the same here too. They're called pants unless they're formal wear.
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:07
stvn758
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Give their fanny a squeeze, see what they say about that.
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:07
Catpee
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Yep, it's the same here too. They're called pants unless they're formal wear.
What do Americans call pants?

I mean in terms of underwear which we call pants, what do they say?
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:09
Empirical
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What do Americans call pants?

I mean in terms of underwear which we call pants, what do they say?
That one.
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:14
Catpee
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But "underwear" could mean a bra or a vest, it's not as specific as "pants".
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:18
mummypigget
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What do Americans call pants?

I mean in terms of underwear which we call pants, what do they say?
Thong, old lady underwear and tidy whities...all more "joeyisums"

"old lady underwear" was used when they ended up switching apartments in the bet.

"tighty whities" was used when Joey was fed up of taking the flack whilst Chandler and Monica's relationship was still a secret and Rachel found Chandlers pants and Joey took the blame but later shouted at Chandler for it!

Last edited by mummypigget : 14-04-2009 at 19:25. Reason: got it wrong...was being a smurf
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:21
80sfan
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"tidy whities" was used when Joey was fed up of taking the flack whilst Chandler and Monica's relationship was still a secret and Rachel found Chandlers pants and Joey took the blame but later shouted at Chandler for it!
'Tighty Whities' I think is the phrase.... not for me!
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:24
mummypigget
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'Tighty Whities' I think is the phrase.... not for me!
Ooops, wasn't thinking...am off to edit it
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:28
lala
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It seems that most of the world calls trousers.. pants..... In India, when they're talking in English, they always seem to refer to trousers as pants. I know in Australia, New Zealand and Canada they call them pants too.

Hmmm...... We are weird aren't we lol.... We also drive on the wrong side of the road lol.
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:31
80sfan
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Ooops, wasn't thinking...am off to edit it
LOL

Made me laugh though as an expression!
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:31
summerain
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Has anyone else ever had a slight panic when abroad because someone says "Oh, I like your pants" "Eh?!"
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:32
geoffSF
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For both men and women it's just underwear. For women it could be panties and bra. For men it's boxers or briefs.
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:34
Elanor
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But "underwear" could mean a bra or a vest, it's not as specific as "pants".
To us it does, but generally in American usage 'underwear' means knickers/pants, and if they mean a bra or a vest, then they say so.
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:40
Rowdy
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What do Americans call pants?

I mean in terms of underwear which we call pants, what do they say?
Shorts. And in reply to your next question, I don't know. Cut-offs, maybe?
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Old 14-04-2009, 19:43
Radiomaniac
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What do Americans call pants?

I mean in terms of underwear which we call pants, what do they say?
Today in 'Everybody Loves Raymond', Ray had to share a bed with his brother Robert and asked him to wear some underpants.

I usually hear Americans say shorts. (Eat my shorts!)
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Old 14-04-2009, 21:10
Emerican Idol
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What do Americans call pants?

I mean in terms of underwear which we call pants, what do they say?
Underwear, panties, tightie whities, boxers, britches, bloomers, under garments
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Old 14-04-2009, 21:22
Finky
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I'm from Lancashire and it's only really there I've heard English people use 'pants' to mean 'trousers', seemingly in the rest of the country they use 'trousers' and call 'underwear' 'pants'. Alas, it's a habit I've picked up, so I could mean trousers or underwear depending on the context.

(Too many 'of these'.)
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Old 14-04-2009, 21:50
*marv*
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What do Americans call pants?

I mean in terms of underwear which we call pants, what do they say?
For men its underpants
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Old 14-04-2009, 21:57
Claratana
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I always say 'trousers' or 'shorts' but my Aussie kids call them 'pants' without fail.

I sometimes use 'pants' for underwear but generally use the term 'knickers', which my children think is a hilarious word. They always use the word 'undies'.
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Old 14-04-2009, 22:04
howardl
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Why do we sometimes refer to pants as underpants?
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Old 14-04-2009, 22:14
nanscombe
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Underpants?

Maybe there is some logic to the trousers being called pants idea.


If you wear the underwear under the trousers (pants) then they would be underpants.

Aha! There is also an undershirt what we would probably call a vest.
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Old 14-04-2009, 22:30
GratingCheese
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I'm from Lancashire and it's only really there I've heard English people use 'pants' to mean 'trousers', seemingly in the rest of the country they use 'trousers' and call 'underwear' 'pants'. Alas, it's a habit I've picked up, so I could mean trousers or underwear depending on the context.

(Too many 'of these'.)
I'm from Lancashire and refer to trousers as pants.

If fact I find the whole conept of referring to underwear as pants slightly weird. I've always called them underpants (because lo and behold, they go under your pants).
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Old 14-04-2009, 22:33
Finky
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I'm from Lancashire and refer to trousers as pants.

If fact I find the whole conept of referring to underwear as pants slightly weird. I've always called them underpants (because lo and behold, they go under your pants).
That's the logic my proper Lancashire friends use (I moved there when I was 9 so I'm not proper )
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