General Question

AstroChuck's avatar

Why is it called a "pair" of pants?

Asked by AstroChuck (37438points) May 14th, 2008 from iPhone

After all, you don’t call it a pair of bras.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

16 Answers

wildflower's avatar

I have no idea if this is in any way true or related, but…in some older Nordic languages, I’ve heard pants referred to as the leg equivalent of sleeves – this may have impacted the whole ‘pair’ thing, since there’s two ‘leg sleeves’.....just a guess.

cheebdragon's avatar

because pear and pare were already taken??

delirium's avatar

“The original word for the garment covering the legs of men was pantaloon. The word pant was often used as a synonym for pantleg, that is, the covering of only one leg. In this case the complete garment would have two pants, or better, a pair. Pantaloon as a garment could be used in the singular, but most often the plural was preferred.”

psyla's avatar

cheebdragon, about “pears”, I need you in my “Got Backyard Trees” question! Chaps would be the only pants that actually came in pairs….

whatthefluther's avatar

Beat me to it delirium. Here’s a link for more info: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/53/messages/1047.html

psyla's avatar

Excellent link, whatthefluther! I never realized almost all torso/leg garments are plural: trousers, shorts, panties…

iCeskate's avatar

2 legs equal a pair…. A pair is 2

psyla's avatar

Good point! I have 2 eyes and it’s called a pair of sunglasses. A pair of gloves, a pair of hearing aids, a pair of shoes… Earmuffs is plural….. A pair of glass eyes… It seems that a shirt, referred to as a singular item despite its 2 sleeves is the exception to plural clothing.

AstroChuck's avatar

you don’t say a pair of bras or a pair of sweaters or a pair of swimsuits either.

cheebdragon's avatar

maybe it doesnt apply to things above the waist? because technicaly you could ask someone to grab you a pair of swim trunks while they are at the store, because a ladies swimsuit would just be referring to a one piece (right?) and if it were a ladies 2 piece swimsuit it would just be called a bikini…......i dont know, lol, i forgot what i was trying to say half way into typing this….....lmfao i feel so old! ♣ ♠ ♥ ♦

wildflower's avatar

@astrochuck
This is pure speculation, but maybe the naming of tops didn’t go that way because the larger part of the garment is to cover the one torso, rather than the two arms. The opposite is true for trousers/pants.

cheebdragon's avatar

except for the “short and squatty, all butt and no body” ......

wildflower's avatar

shorts aren’t really trousers…they’re shorts (and as the name suggests, short).

cheebdragon's avatar

For some reason I feel like right now, there is a small group of stoners somewhere in the world, and they are having this same conversation as they play puff puff pass….......
; )

wildflower's avatar

hahaha…..hours of entertainment, I’m sure :)

Schenectandy's avatar

I don’t know why it’s a ‘pair of pants’, but I’ve got a pretty good idea why it’s ‘Head & Shoulders’...

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