Pants Is Shit?

Yeah, I might be an Anglophile but sometimes I just do not get what those guys on the east side on the pond are thinking about.

I have a friend in southern England who among the most delightful people I have met online.  We met in 1996 and with the exception of an unimportant lost decade, we have been friends ever since.  She is the inspiration for this post because she introduced me to what must be the most unusual use of any English word… ever.

A few months ago we were discussing British politics and she said, “… that is really pants.”  At that point there was a very long pause because I had no idea what she meant.  Had the subject changed from Gordon Brown to his attire?  Or perhaps she had moved on to discussing some high street shop and I had just zoned out and missed some, or even most of the conversation.

Her accent is rather posh and is very easy for me to understand.  I freely admit that there are people from various parts of England who might as well be speaking Flemish when I hear them, because I understand virtually none of what they are saying.  That is not the case with my friend from the south.  No Midland’s slang going on with this woman.

Pants?  WTF am I missing?

Not wanting to appear like the stereotypical ignorant American I still wanted to know what she meant.  She knows I am not dumb and I am fairly well versed in most things English so I decided to ask.

“Ummmm were we talking about clothing?  What did you mean by pants?”  To her, suddenly I was the ultimate stereotypical ignorant American.  I mean pants is pants and what else could pants possibly mean, right?

Apparently, pants is bad.  I know that sounds grammatically funny, but it is accurate.  Pants is bad.  Pants is shit.

HUH?

How can pants be used in any sentence and have a bad meaning?  Pants are something you wear.  Suddenly, “black pudding is pants” is supposed to make sense to me.  Come on!  I know English.  I am the one who spells in English, remember?  I know slang, but pants is just nuts.  Even a posh bird from the south can say “shit” when it is called for, and trust me she does, yet she still says “pants” when she feels like saying it.

This is one regional use of a word which is just beyond me.  Who was the first person to use the word “pants” and have it mean something bad.  Did his or her friends laugh when they heard “that chippie is pants!”?

This really boggles my American mind.  If anyone out there, on either side of the Atlantic can explain to me why pants is bad please let me know.  I need you, now… more than ever.

Cheers!

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~ by tegold on 10.08.2009.

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