knickers

[19] The use of the word knickers for ‘women’s underpants’ dates back to the 1880s: a writer in the magazine Queen in 1882 recommended ‘flannel knickers in preference to flannel petticoat’, and Home Chat in 1895 was advertising ‘serge knickers for girls from twelve to sixteen’. Over the decades, of course, the precise application of the term has changed with the nature of the garment, and today’s legless briefs are a far cry from the knee-length ‘knickers’ of the 1880s. They got their name because of their similarity to the original knickers, which were knee-length trousers for men (The Times in 1900 reported the ‘Imperial Yeomanry … in their well-made, loosely-fitting khaki tunics and riding knickers’). And knickers itself was short for knickerbockers, a term used for such trousers since the 1850s. This came from Diedrich Knickerbocker, a fictitious Dutch-sounding name invented by the American writer Washington Irving for the ‘author’ of his History of New York 1809. The reason for the application seems to have been that the original knickerbockers resembled the sort of kneebreeches supposedly worn by Dutchmen.
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   The garment has a name that is a shortening of knickerbockers. These were originally loose-fitting breeches worn by Dutch immigrants to America. They take their name from Diedrich Knickerbocker, a fictitious Dutchman supposed to be the author of Washington Irving's History of New York (1809). The book had illustrations by George Cruikshank showing Knickerbocker wearing such breeches, and they were the direct inspiration for the name.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • knickers — ► PLURAL NOUN Brit. 1) a woman s or girl s undergarment covering the body from the waist or hips to the top of the thighs and having two holes for the legs. 2) N. Amer. knickerbockers. ● get one s knickers in a twist Cf. ↑get one s knickers in a… …   English terms dictionary

  • knickers — knick ers, n. pl. 1. The name for a style of loose fitting short trousers, gathered in and ending at the knees; smallclothes; called also {knickerbockers}. Syn: breeches, knee breeches, knee pants, knickerbockers. [1913 Webster + WordNet 1.5] 2.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • knickers — (n.) 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… …   Etymology dictionary

  • knickers — (plural; pronunciamos níkers ) sustantivo masculino 1. Origen: Uruguay. Pantalones bombachos …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • knickers — [nik′ərz] pl.n. [contr. < KNICKERBOCKER] 1. knickerbockers: see KNICKERBOCKER (n. 3) 2. a) Chiefly Brit. a bloomerlike undergarment worn by women or girls b) Brit. panties …   English World dictionary

  • knickers — knickerbockers [ knikɛrbɔkɛrs; nikɶrbɔkɶr ] n. m. pl. • 1884; knicker bockers 1863; mot angl., nom d un héros de W. Irving ♦ Anciennt Culotte de golf, souvent en tweed, portée aussi à la ville. Mod. Culotte utilisée pour le ski de fond, l… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Knickers — In the United Kingdom, Ireland and some Commonwealth nations, knickers is a word for women s undergarments. George Cruikshank, whose illustrations are classic icons for Charles Dickens works, also did the illustrations for Washington Irving s… …   Wikipedia

  • knickers — [19] The use of the word knickers for ‘women’s underpants’ dates back to the 1880s: a writer in the magazine Queen in 1882 recommended ‘flannel knickers in preference to flannel petticoat’, and Home Chat in 1895 was advertising ‘serge knickers… …   Word origins

  • knickers — [[t]nɪ̱kə(r)z[/t]] (The form knicker is used as a modifier.) 1) N PLURAL: also a pair of N Knickers are a piece of underwear worn by women and girls which have holes for the legs and elastic around the waist to hold them up. [BRIT] She bought Ann …   English dictionary

  • knickers — noun (BrE) short underwear for women ⇨ See also ↑panties ADJECTIVE ▪ French ▪ frilly, lacy ▪ skimpy … OF KNICKERS ▪ pair …   Collocations dictionary


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