Me Like Words
Thursday, July 06, 2006
 
Pants
You know, pants. Like what you wear to cover your underwear and what not.

Here is an interesting and made up fact, everyday five billion pairs of pants are worn. That could be true for all I know, but what is true is that pants are pretty much the universal choice of below the belt garment for men and a nice, if not sexy, alternative for women. But Pants the word has only been around for a few centuries and has been in competition with the likes of Slacks,Trousers and, in some strange places, Knickers. So how did we arrive to call these wonderful garments pants? It all started in Italy during the 15th century.

Italians in the 1400s spent there days much like the rest of the medieval world: dying, fighting, coughing up bile, going to church, dying and dying. But that didn't stop them from going to see a play every now and again. And when they got to the play no character was more beloved than the ever present skinny old Venetian fool wearing slippers, spectacles and ridiculous trousers, who appeared in every play for comic relief. He was known as Panteleone to the Italians but when this particular form of play (a pantomime) became popular elsewhere, Pantaleone was given different names: Pantalon in France, Pantaloon in England. The ridiculous pants he wore - skin tight up till the knee, then blooming above - were so symbolic that any kind of trouser covering the upper and lower leg were simply called Pantaloons,.

This went on until the French Revolution, when the masses were dubbed san-culottes (no breeches) by the aristocrats for their tattered clothing. But when the unwashed masses won that war they embraced the Pantalon as their clothing of choice to off set them from the knee-length breeches worn by the rich. Pantaloons had become the leg wear of the people.

After the French Revolution, the world began to take notice of a new style of tight-fitting, full length pantaloons coming out of France. The English grabbed them up when they were introduced in the early 18th century but it's when they made their way across the pond that Pants' journey came full circle. Just as in England, these new pantaloons were popular in America where, as we so often do, the word was shortened to Pants. Pants: 600 years in the making and started by some skinny Italian asshole prancing around in tights. Ah history, you never fail to amuse me.

Stylish beyond a doubt.
 
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I (me) like words. And even more than liking words I like to know where they come from and how they ended up in my mouth. It's called 'Etymology,' and I hope you like words as much as me do. If you have a word or phrase you've been pondering send it to me at Streeter@StreeterSeidell.com with 'Me Like Words' as the subject.

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