noun (used with a plural verb)
trousers ( def 1 ).
underpants, especially for women and children; panties.
British. men's underpants, especially long drawers.
wear the pants, to have the dominant role; be in charge: I guess we know who wears the pants in that family.

1830–40; short for pantaloons Unabridged


1 [pant]
verb (used without object)
to breathe hard and quickly, as after exertion.
to gasp, as for air.
to long with breathless or intense eagerness; yearn: to pant for revenge.
to throb or heave violently or rapidly; palpitate.
to emit steam or the like in loud puffs.
Nautical. (of the bow or stern of a ship) to work with the shock of contact with a succession of waves. Compare work ( def 24 ).
verb (used with object)
to breathe or utter gaspingly.
the act of panting.
a short, quick, labored effort at breathing; gasp.
a puff, as of an engine.
a throb or heave, as of the breast.

1400–50; late Middle English panten < Middle French pant(a)is(i)er < Vulgar Latin *phantasiāre to have visions < Greek phantasioûn to have or form images. See fantasy

pantingly, adverb
unpanting, adjective

1. puff, blow. Pant, gasp suggest breathing with more effort than usual. Pant suggests rapid, convulsive breathing, as from violent exertion or excitement: to pant after running for the train. Gasp suggests catching one's breath in a single quick intake, as from amazement, terror, and the like, or a series of such quick intakes of breath, as in painful breathing: to gasp with horror; to gasp for breath. 3. thirst, hunger.


2 [pant]
of or pertaining to pants: pant cuffs.
pants ( defs 1, 2 ).

1890–95; singular of pants Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pant (pænt)
vb (often foll by for)
1.  to breathe with noisy deep gasps, as when out of breath from exertion or excitement
2.  to say (something) while breathing thus
3.  to have a frantic desire (for); yearn
4.  (intr) to pulsate; throb rapidly
5.  the act or an instance of panting
6.  a short deep gasping noise; puff
[C15: from Old French pantaisier, from Greek phantasioun to have visions, from phantasiafantasy]

pants (pænts)
pl n
1.  (Brit) an undergarment reaching from the waist to the thighs or knees
2.  Also called: trousers a garment shaped to cover the body from the waist to the ankles or knees with separate tube-shaped sections for both legs
3.  informal bore the pants off to bore extremely
4.  informal scare the pants off to scare extremely
5.  slang (Brit) inferior
[C19: shortened from pantaloons; see pantaloon]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1440, perhaps a shortening of O.Fr. pantaisier "to be out of breath" (12c.), probably from V.L. *pantasiare "be oppressed with a nightmare, struggle for breathing during a nightmare," lit. "to have visions," from Gk. phantasioun "have or form images, subject to hallucinations," from phantasia "appearance,
image, fantasy" (see phantasm). The noun is attested from c.1500.

1840, see pantaloons. Colloquial sing. pant is attested from 1893. To wear the pants "be the dominant member of a household" is first attested 1931. To do something by the seat of (one's) pants "by human instinct" is from 1942, originally of pilots, perhaps with some
notion of being able to sense the condition and situation of the plane by engine vibrations, etc.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

pant (pānt)
v. pant·ed, pant·ing, pants
To breathe rapidly and shallowly.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with pants, also see ants in one's pants; beat the pants off; caught with one's pants down; get the lead out of (one's pants); kick in the pants; seat of the pants; talk someone's arm (pants) off; wear the pants.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


an outer garment covering the lower half of the body from the waist to the ankles and divided into sections to cover each leg separately. In attempting to define trousers, historians often explain that if any portion of a garment passed between the legs, it was an ancestor of the trousers. Thus defined, trousers can be traced to ancient times as worn, for example, by the Scythians, Persians, Japanese, and Hindus

Learn more about pants with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Keeping the pant legs of long pants wet is also a good way to keep your legs
Pants widened my hips, shrank my legs and made my waist disappear.
With his eyebrows raised in disbelief and his pants hanging half open, he was
  wheeled to the left for further inspection.
In short keep it in your pants and don't allow people to produce more than
  their own replacement.
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