noun (used with a plural verb)
- a bloomerslike undergarment worn by women.
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Idioms for knickers
Origin of knickers
Words nearby knickers
What does knickers mean?
Knickers most commonly refers to women’s underwear.
Knickers is primarily used in the U.K., where it may sound a little old-fashioned or childish—a lot of British people think of knickers as what grandmothers and little girls wear (as opposed to underwear). It is often used to intentionally imply such associations or to be funny.
In the U.S., knickers was once used to refer to breeches, a kind of knee-length pants once popular for men and boys. But both the pants and the word for them are rarely used anymore.
Example: My mum bought me some new knickers that look like they’re for my granny.
Where does knickers come from?
Knickers has quite a twisted word history. The first records of knickers referring to clothing come from the late 1800s. It is a shortened form of knickerbockers, a type of baggy breeches fastened at the knee. Knickerbockers got their name from Diedrich Knickerbocker, the fictional author of Washington Irving’s A History of New York (1809), in part of which he chronicles the history of Dutch settlers in America. The word knickerbocker became a nickname for the descendants of those settlers and for the type of pants they traditionally wore. (Eventually, it became a nickname for anyone from New York and, much later, the name of a New York basketball team).
Knickers is a short way of referring to the pants called knickerbockers. This use was once common in the U.S. But in the U.K., knickers are always underwear. Sometimes, the word specifically refers to a kind of loose-fitting underwear similar to bloomers (knickerbocker-like pants once worn by women in the U.S. as an alternative to dresses). More informally, it can also refer to the kind of short-legged underwear often called boyshorts. Knickers can also be used in a general way to mean “panties.”
Knickers appears in a few British idioms, including most commonly get one’s knickers in a twist (or bunch or knot), which means “to get overly upset” and is typically used in a rude command not to do that. (The U.S. equivalent is get one’s panties in a twist/bunch/knot, reflecting the fact that panties is a close synonym of knickers.)
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What are some other forms related to knickers?
- knickered (adjective)
What are some synonyms for knickers?
What are some words that share a root or word element with knickers?
What are some words that often get used in discussing knickers?
How is knickers used in real life?
Knickers referring to some kind of underwear is primarily used in the U.K., especially to be a bit funny.
Put clean knickers on. In case. #classic6wordIrishshortstory
— joan cooke (@joancooke5) September 1, 2019
Tottenham's gradient jersey makes them look like chubby, middle-aged men running around with their old-timey knickers pulled too high.
— furf (@furf) September 17, 2018
A lot of people getting their knickers in a twist over a couple of movies missing from the portfolio. £50 or £60 for the year is a superb deal for what you get.
— GerryBhoy (@retrobotik) March 24, 2020
Try using knickers!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of knickers?
C. long johns
Example sentences from the Web for knickers
Knickers I had designed—gray tweed, gray leather gloves, gray socks.Pryor Dodge's Two-Wheeled Obsession Is Now a Museum of Bike History|Anthony Haden-Guest|September 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
You also get to hear LaBeouf say, in an accent that I assume is English, “You should probably take off your knickers.”Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Raw Performance in ‘Nymphomaniac’ Is Not About the Sex|Jimmy So|March 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Insecurities abounded, and Kennan, it seems, pretty much always had his knickers in a twist about something.The Man Who Knew Russia Best: George Kennan’s Revealing Diaries|James A. Warren|March 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
On stage, he played monster and made small girls wet their knickers.What It Was Like to Watch the Beatles Become the Beatles—Nik Cohn Remembers|Nik Cohn|February 9, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Were you surprised by the number of twisted knickers caused by The God Delusion, in which you argue that God cannot exist?
No thick-booted undergraduates' holiday-parties nor furry art-students with knickers and bare throats here.Mushroom Town|Oliver Onions
I suppose they'll resolve into baggy knickers and the sort of long shirt with a belt to it the youngsters of your age all wear.Red Pepper Burns|Grace S. Richmond
It was not in that pocket, nor in the one on the other side, nor in his knickers.Wood Magic|Richard Jefferies
She sees me, of course, in all stages of dress and undress, and greatly admires my warm spun knickers and stockings!A Journal from Japan|Marie Carmichael Stopes
Then, digging deep in her knickers pocket, she dragged forth a new five dollar bill.Gypsy Flight|Roy J. Snell