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[pants] /pænts/
noun, (used with a plural verb)
trousers (def 1).
underpants, especially for women and children; panties.
British. men's underpants, especially long drawers.
wear the pants, to have the dominant role; be in charge:
I guess we know who wears the pants in that family.
Origin of pants
1830-40; short for pantaloons Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for wear the pants


plural noun
(Brit) an undergarment reaching from the waist to the thighs or knees
Also called trousers. a garment shaped to cover the body from the waist to the ankles or knees with separate tube-shaped sections for both legs
(informal) bore the pants off, to bore extremely
(informal) scare the pants off, to scare extremely
(Brit, slang) inferior
Word Origin
C19: shortened from pantaloons; see pantaloon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wear the pants



trousers, 1840, see 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 1942, originally of pilots, perhaps with some notion of being able to sense the condition and situation of the plane by engine vibrations, etc. To be caught with (one's) pants down "discovered in an embarrassing condition" is from 1932.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wear the pants

wear the pants

verb phrase

To be the dominant one in a marriage, household, etc •Nearly always said of a woman

[1931+; wear the breeches can be traced to the 1400s in a French version (braies) and to the 1500s in English]



  1. To pull the pants, shorts, etc, down or off, esp as a prank: We pantsed him at the swimming pool
  2. To be dealt a crushing defeat; to exact a crushing defeat: Our soccer team was pantsed again/ We pantsed the other teams at the spelling bee

Related Terms

ants, cream one's jeans, fancy pants, fly by the seat of one's pants, fudge one's pants, get the lead out, have lead in one's pants, high waters, hot pants, raggedy-ass, seat-of-the-pants, shit one's pants, smarty-pants

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with wear the pants

wear the pants

Exercise controlling authority in a household, as in Grandma wears the pants at our house. This idiom, generally applied to women and dating from the mid-1500s, a time when they wore only skirts, equates pants with an authoritative and properly masculine role. Originally put as wear the breeches, it remains in use despite current fashions.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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