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How did the British expression “bag of pants” mean “rubbish”?

How did the British expression "bag of pants" come to mean "rubbish"?

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

The British expression “bag of pants” is a colloquial and somewhat informal way to express that something is “rubbish” or “garbage.” It’s likely not a widely recognized or traditional idiom, and its use may be relatively recent. The phrase is straightforward in its meaning, essentially suggesting that the thing being referred to is as worthless or undesirable as a bag full of pants or underwear.

British English, like any language, continually evolves, and new idioms and expressions emerge over time. These may not always have a well-documented origin but become part of the language through common usage. It’s possible that “bag of pants” is a more recent slang term that has gained some popularity in certain regions or social groups in the UK.

What’s the history behind the British word “rubbish”? As an American, I’d like to know.

The English word ‘Rubbish’ is an old word from Anglo-Norman French rubbous. Going back maybe 1,000 years.

The Americans appear to use garbage, from the Old Italian garbuglio, for ‘confusion’.

Maybe talking rubbish = confusion.

It appears that the word traces back to 14th-century Anglo-Norman, but the trail runs cold from there. It is thought that it may relate to “rubble,” but it appears that no specific link has been found in the literature.

To an Australian, the North American use of the word “trash” is much broader than our use of it. The main meaning I have encountered in Australia, apart from adopted phrases such as “Trash’n’Treasure,” is of vegetal debris such as the leaves and other stuff you trim from the cane when harvesting sugarcane. Curiously, though, I find no mention of that kind of usage in online dictionaries.

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

The ‘bag of’ part is redundant; ‘pants’ is a slang word for ‘rubbish’ or ‘nonsense’. The Cassell Dictionary of Slang notes that the word has had this usage since the 1990s and suggests that it is a variant ‘knickers’. That has been a slang word with the same meaning (‘rubbish’ or ‘nonsense’) since the 1970s. They suggest that that in turn might be a euphemism for ‘knackers’ (a slang word for testicles), or it might simply be a playground obscenity (i.e., underwear is a naughty idea for children).

What does “cottonhead” mean in British slang?

I’m British and have never heard that expression.

Wow, over 500 upvotes for saying that I don’t know!

It doesn’t mean anything in British slang. It isn’t British slang. Why can’t you people check your facts before asking questions?

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

What does the British expression “nice British” mean?

Bristols are an example of rhyming slang. Bristol is famous for its seagull pies, hence the term ‘Bristol Pies—eyes’.

It’s traditional to walk into an English pub to compliment the barmaid. Usually with “hello, love. Nice Bristols! Any chance of a pint”.

I hope this helps.

Well, how can one put this diplomatically?

The phrase is a derivation of rhyming slang. Bristol City is the full version.

It is a reference to the size or form, or indeed both, of a lady’s embonpoint.

It can be used in general and specific terms by males of the species to express admiration or contempt for the said anatomical features.

“Cor, will you look at the Bristols on that?” indicates a pair of aesthetically satisfactory mammaries have hoven (?) into view.

“She ain’t got no Bristols; it’s like two aspirins on an ironing board” is affirming that the observer has not been greatly impressed with the size of the cup.

“Her Bristols were alright when she was young, but now they’ve gone so far south the shipping forecast’s warning about ’em in the English Channel,” from which we can infer that the lady in question is aging and her skin is losing some of the elasticity it had in its youth.

“Nice Bristols” is, of course, a casual observance. It would probably be used by scaffolders peering over the side of their rigid erections and having a bird’s-eye view of the appendages.

Of course, Millie Tant would not approve of such carryings-on:

But then her Bristols are like two monkeys fighting in a coal sack anyway.

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

Why do we use the word “cobblers” in British slang to mean a lie or untruth?

It’s one of those terms that, strangely to my mind, refers to the sexual parts of the anatomy to indicate distaste or rejection. “Cobblers” is (according to many respected sources at least) rhyming slang for “cobblers’ awls,” which means balls, i.e.,


An awl is a tool used by a cobbler.

“All that I live by is with the awl,” says a cobbler in the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

The following conversation on “leading men about the streets” is one of my favourite Shakespeare passages. Pure Monty Python.

It’s always puzzled me that people use “balls,” “pricks” (and various other synonyms for penis), and also words for the female sexual parts to indicate a thing or person they intensely dislike, reject, or wish to demean.

But people do that. And that’s where “cobblers” comes from.

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

What does the British term “sod off” mean in American, or is that even a real British phrase?

It’s roughly equivalent to “fuck off.”. “Sod” is an alternate term for a bastard, or SOB.

It’s a slightly more polite version of “fuck off,” i.e., absent yourself, literally or figuratively.

This can be used to suggest that you literally go away or simply that something you said or suggested is not acceptable, e.g., “Lend me a fiver” or “Sod off.”.

See also: piss off.¹

I recall a character in a novel who had in his garden an ornamental pond containing three fish of a species called Orfe; he called them Piss, Sod, and Fuck.

What’s the meaning of the British expression “All talk and no trousers”?

I’m not sure that’s right. We have lots of idioms in English that are similar to this, but not quite as you word it. And they mean different things.

“All mouth and trousers” is someone who is rather lippy and full of himself.

“Fur coat and no knickers” is someone who looks quite posh on the outside but is underneath it all “no better than they ought to be.”.

“All gong and no dinner” is someone who bigs themselves up massively and then turns out to be a flop.

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

What is the origin of the very British expression “crikey”?


The majority of sources say it is merely a replacement for the word Christ.

Now that fits in with what I thought it was, which is “Christ on a cross.”.

Essentially, it’s an invented word used to avoid cursing or blasphemy.

It is thought to have originated in the 19th century.

In British slang, what is “cushty” and where does it come from?

Cushty has come to mean ‘nice/excellent/comfortable/easy’ So a well-paid, easy, undemanding job would be a ‘cushy number’.

The origin is Hindi from India, where ‘Khush means ‘happy’ or’smile’, so the association is pleasurable. It travelled to the UK with the soldiers stationed in India in the Victorian era and was corrupted to Chushy & Cushtry.

Several other Hindi and Urdu words have travelled into English in this way.

I watched a doc featuring Only Fools and Horses creator John Sullivan, where he explains the term cushty. It came from when British troops would do there national service in a part of Asia where there were cushti bars, and it was basically an easier place and more pleasant compared to where other troops were sent to do their national service at that time, hence the cushty detail.

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

What does “the Doris” mean in British slang?

It`s just Doris or Dorothy; a meeting of gay or bi persons on Cunard ships was called Dorothy (Doris) by her with the red shoes in The Wizard of Oz.

As befits the largest county in England, Yorkshire boasts its own extensive airway network. Under arcane rules, all its air stewardesses must be called “Doris.”. This rarely-seen documentary explains how it all works.

“My Doris” is a pet name for one’s wife or girlfriend, generally the former; it probably was used in much the same way as “my other half” might be used today. It was originally used for an inhabitant of Doris, one of the four regions into which Greece was divided for administrative purposes. But exactly how and when the meaning shifted from the old to the modern is unclear.

What does “butters” mean in British slang?

An abbreviated version is ‘butterface’, which is an abbreviation of the phrase’a nice body, but her face…’

‘Butters’ was a word used by teenage boys back in the 80s to describe ugly girls.

“Erregh! Look at her, she’s Butters!”

I haven’t heard that for years.

Ugly . I haven’t heard that word used in years, but then again, I am old and don’t live in London anymore, where it was a popular term.

It tends to be used by teenagers, as in “she is well”-baked”—she is very ugly.

I’m not sure where the slang originates from; I always thought it was from the Caribbean

What does “pants” mean in British slang?

PANTS, as British slang, can be used in a couple of ways. It means: not good, bad, rubbish, or worthless. Also for nonsense, as in bullshit or absurdity.

As an American living in the UK, I hear it most often to express disappointment, similar to how we use “damn.”.

  1. Oh pants! We just missed the last train out by 3 minutes.”
  2. “The weather all week at the beach was pants!”
  3. “Did you hear the latest conspiracy theory? Absolute pants!“

It implies specifically MALE UNDERWEAR, dirty, smelly, in a heap. “What a pile of pants that is!” The expression was first used by 80s and 90s student DJs on university radio stations to describe bands or music that sucked and spread from there. I even saw a public transport bus with a slogan on the back saying, “Parking is pants! Take the bus!”.

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

What does British slang bag of pants mean?

As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, I’m not aware of any specific slang term for “bag of pants” in British slang. Slang can be region-specific, and new terms may emerge over time. It’s also possible that the term has gained popularity or changed in meaning since my last update.

To get the most accurate and up-to-date information on slang terms, I recommend checking online resources, including slang dictionaries, forums, or social media platforms where native speakers discuss and explain slang expressions. Keep in mind that slang can be informal and may not be widely recognized or used in all English-speaking communities.

What do British people mean when they say pants?

In British English, the term “pants” typically refers to underwear or, more specifically, men’s briefs or women’s knickers. If someone in the UK says, “That’s pants!” or “It’s a load of pants,” they are expressing disapproval or disappointment, similar to saying something is rubbish or of poor quality. In this context, “pants” is used as a slang term for something that is considered bad or unsatisfactory. Keep in mind that the meaning of slang terms can vary, and it’s always a good idea to consider the context in which they are used.

What does the British slang Fanny mean?

In British English, the term “fanny” is a slang term for the female genitalia. However, it’s important to note that the meaning of this word varies between British English and American English. In the United States, “fanny” is often used as a colloquial term for the buttocks or rear end.

If you’re in the UK, it’s advisable to be aware of this difference in meaning to avoid potential misunderstandings. Always be mindful of the cultural context and regional variations when using or interpreting slang terms.

How did the British expression “bag of pants” come to mean “rubbish”?

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