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  1. nyota's Avatar
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    #1

    underwear in BrE and AmE

    I'd like to check how particular words for underwear work in British and American English. Can you take a look if this is right:

    BrE

    (under)pants - used for men only?
    knickers - women
    briefs - men and women
    undies - is it common at all in BrE?


    AmE

    underpants - men and women
    panties - women
    undies - women

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: underwear in BrE and AmE

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    I'd like to check how particular words for underwear work in British and American English. Can you take a look if this is right:

    BrE

    (under)pants - used for men only? No. Women as well. "Pants" is more common than "underpants" these days.
    knickers - women Yes
    briefs - men and women Yes, although "briefs" for women usually describe a particular style of knickers.
    undies - is it common at all in BrE? Very common.


    AmE

    underpants - men and women
    panties - women
    undies - women
    BrE response above.

  3. nyota's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: underwear in BrE and AmE

    Thanks ems!

    Just one thing about briefs then - are they the high-cut ones?

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: underwear in BrE and AmE

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    Thanks ems!

    Just one thing about briefs then - are they the high-cut ones?
    You can get "high-leg/high-cut briefs" or "low-cut briefs" but we don't usually associate "briefs" with, for example, thongs/tangas.

    For me, it's a rather old-fashioned word and I think a lot of clothes shops are moving away from the word.

    For info, "thongs" in Australian English are "flip flops" in BrE. That one can get very confusing!

  5. nyota's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: underwear in BrE and AmE

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    For info, "thongs" in Australian English are "flip flops" in BrE. That one can get very confusing!
    Hehe, oh yes, the thought somebody would want to borrow your 'thongs' can be very disturbing.

    Actually this info might come in handy very soon, so thanks again.

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    #6

    Re: underwear in BrE and AmE

    I agree that "underpants" is a unisex term and that "undies" is as well. The latter is informal, as in "Get your dirty undies off the floor, I'm not your maid!"

  6. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: underwear in BrE and AmE

    I should have added to the BrE bit that "undies" can also be an all-encompassing word for general underwear (knickers, bras, socks even).

    When I write a list of things to pack for a holiday, I usually write "Undies" at the top and that way I remember everything underwear-related.

    However, if someone said to me "Hey. Guess what! I'm not wearing any undies!!!" I would assume they meant knickers, not that they weren't wearing knickers or a bra or socks.

  7. nyota's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: underwear in BrE and AmE

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I should have added to the BrE bit that "undies" can also be an all-encompassing word for general underwear (knickers, bras, socks even).

    When I write a list of things to pack for a holiday, I usually write "Undies" at the top and that way I remember everything underwear-related.

    However, if someone said to me "Hey. Guess what! I'm not wearing any undies!!!" I would assume they meant knickers, not that they weren't wearing knickers or a bra or socks.
    Not wearing socks isn't exactly a wild thing to do, but then, depends where one wears them. ;) Umm...I'm not sure where I'm going with this thought, so let me just say that I knew it was worth asking you all (thanks to Gil and Dave too) how those words actually functioned because what I've found in Longman wasn't really convincing with its strict division:

    un‧der‧pants [plural]
    1 British English a short piece of underwear worn by men under their trousers
    2 American English a short piece of underwear worn under trousers by men or women
    Last edited by nyota; 15-Nov-2011 at 21:24.

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