- 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
- British 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
- bore the pants off informal to bore extremely
- scare the pants off informal to scare extremely
- British slang inferior
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.
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.