Don’t get your knickers in a knot!


If you’ve known me or followed this blog for very long, you know that I’m a self professed word nerd. It may be quirky, but I love words. Who else do you know who would watch a lecture series entitled The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins while walking on a treadmill?

So, it only makes sense (to me, at least) that a word nerd with an interest in fashion would be fascinated by some of the words used in the fashion business. Today I’m focusing on fashion words that are used differently in different countries. For me, they add to the fun of reading fashion blogs from around the world.

When I was a child, I often wore a jumper to school, but did I wear this


or this?


Here in Canada, as well as in the US, the first picture is a jumper, but in the UK and Australia, a jumper is what we in North America would call a sweater! The jumpers that I wore are known as a pinafores in the UK.

While we in North America understand the meaning of trousers, that’s not a word we’d likely use. Instead, we’d talk about our pants. That could be confusing if we were in the UK, however, where people would be embarrassed if anyone saw their pants. There the term is slang for underpants!

Depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on, you might not want to get your knickers in a knot or your panties in a twist! Knickers is the British word for a lady’s underpants while here in North America, we usually call them panties.

Of course, men have different underwear words too. Some British men wear y-fronts, those old fashioned underpants with an inverted y shape in front. North American men usually refer to their underwear as briefs, shorts or boxers depending on the style they prefer.

Even babies get in on the underwear confusion. British and Australian babies wear nappies, but in North America, they wear diapers.

What do you call these?


Here in North America, we call them coveralls, but in the UK they’re overalls. Here, overalls are bibbed pants/trousers held up by over-the-shoulder straps. In Britain, however, those are dungarees.

Are you confused yet? Can you think of any other examples?


6 thoughts on “Don’t get your knickers in a knot!

  1. I always wondered what dungarees were. I thought they were work pants, made from a heavy material, like a jean but not jeans. If that makes sense! Now I know they’re bibs :)Thanks Elaine.

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