P is for Pantyhose

Last night, child 3, getting ready for bed: “Mommy, where are my pantyhose?”

Me: “Do you mean your pajama bottoms?”

Child 3: “Yes. Anyway, what are pantyhose?”

Me: “Tights.”

Skipping over the question of why an eight-year old can’t remember what to call her pjs (and the fact that they are probably pj pants over here anyway), I have been thinking about pantyhose.

For Brits, pantyhose as a word is both hilarious and mildly embarrassing. After all it is a combination of hose, as modeled here (and possibly with padding to improve the appearance of his legs) by Henry VIII:


And of panties – an American word for (blush!) knickers!!


I don’t know what it is about underwear but I’m sure there is something to be learnt about the British psyche in all this. Why is it that when tights were invented during the 20th century and really came into fashion in the 1960’s, the term for them didn’t become knickerhose or knickerstockings (following the word-math of panty + hose) but instead became tights? Why tights?

Well, because tights was derived from their being ‘skin tight’…. and there is no embarrassing mention of bottoms (butts). You know it makes sense.

One last thing. For the musically-minded, here is the ultimate use of tights/pantyhose in a pop video. Enjoy.




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