too big for one's breeches


noun (used with a plural verb)
Also called knee breeches. knee-length trousers, often having ornamental buckles or elaborate decoration at or near the bottoms, commonly worn by men and boys in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries.
Informal. trousers.
too big for one's breeches, asserting oneself beyond one's authority or ability.

1125–75; Middle English, plural of breech

breeches, britches. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
breeches (ˈbrɪtʃɪz, ˈbriː-)
pl n
1.  trousers extending to the knee or just below, worn for riding, mountaineering, etc
2.  informal, dialect or any trousers
3.  too big for one's breeches conceited; unduly self-confident

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.1200, a double plural, from O.E. brec "breeches," which already was pl. of broc "garment for the legs and trunk," from P.Gmc. *brokiz (cf. O.N. brok, Du. broek, Dan. brog, O.H.G. bruoh, Ger. Bruch, obsolete since 18c. except in Swiss dialect), perhaps from PIE base *bhreg- (see
break). The P.Gmc. word is a parallel form to Celt. *bracca, source (via Gaulish) of L. braca (cf. Fr. braies), and some propose that the Gmc. word group is borrowed from Gallo-Latin, others that the Celtic was from Germanic. Expanded sense of "part of the body covered by breeches, posterior" led to senses in childbirthing (1670s) and gunnery ("the part of a firearm behind the bore," 1570s). As the popular word for "trousers" in English, displaced in U.S. c.1840 by pants. The Breeches Bible (Geneva Bible of 1560) so called on account of rendition of Gen. iii.7 (already in Wyclif) "They sewed figge leaues together, and made themselues breeches."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

breech (brēch)
The lower rear portion of the human trunk; the buttocks.

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

Breeches definition

(Ex. 28:42), rather linen drawers, reaching from the waist to a little above the knee, worn by the priests (Ezek. 44:17, 18).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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