a descendant of the Dutch settlers of New York.
any New Yorker.

Origin of Knickerbocker

1800–10, Americanism; generalized from Diedrich Knickerbocker, fictitious author of Washington Irving's History of New York



noun (used with a plural verb)

Also knick·er·bock·ers [nik-er-bok-erz] /ˈnɪk ərˌbɒk ərz/. loose-fitting short trousers gathered in at the knees.
Chiefly British.
  1. a bloomerslike undergarment worn by women.
  2. panties.
British Informal. a woman's or girl's short-legged underpants.

Origin of knickers

1880–85; shortened form of knickerbockers, plural of knickerbocker, special use of Knickerbocker Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for knickerbockers

Contemporary Examples of knickerbockers

Historical Examples of knickerbockers

  • "Time to go," said Philip, still in his tall silk hat and his knickerbockers.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • "Most unpleasant for the Englishman," growls the man in knickerbockers.

  • "What a beastly mess," rubbing the cobwebs off his hands on to his knickerbockers.

    Hunter's Marjory

    Margaret Bruce Clarke

  • In a grey Norfolk suit, with knickerbockers, and a soft felt hat.

    The Shrieking Pit

    Arthur J. Rees

  • Stockings, knickerbockers, and blouse were drawn on with unwonted rapidity.

    A Son of the City

    Herman Gastrell Seely

British Dictionary definitions for knickerbockers


pl n

baggy breeches fastened with a band at the knee or above the ankleAlso called (US): knickers

Word Origin for knickerbockers

C19: regarded as the traditional dress of the Dutch settlers in America; see Knickerbocker


noun US

a descendant of the original Dutch settlers of New York
an inhabitant of New York

Word Origin for Knickerbocker

C19: named after Diedrich Knickerbocker, fictitious Dutchman alleged to be the author of Washington Irving's History of New York (1809)


pl n

an undergarment for women covering the lower trunk and sometimes the thighs and having separate legs or leg-holes
a US variant of knickerbockers
get one's knickers in a twist slang to become agitated, flustered, or upset

Word Origin for knickers

C19: contraction of knickerbockers
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

Word Origin and History for knickerbockers


"descendant of Dutch settlers of New York," 1831, from Diedrich Knickerbocker, the name under which Washington Irving published his popular "History of New York" (1809). The pen-name was borrowed from Irving's friend Herman Knickerbocker, and literally means "toy marble-baker."



"short, loose-fitting undergarment," now usually for women but not originally so, 1866, shortening of knickerbockers (1859), said to be so called for their resemblance to the trousers of old-time Dutchmen in Cruikshank's illustrations for Washington Irving's "History of New York" (see knickerbocker).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper