wear the pants

pants

[pants]
noun (used with a plural verb)
1.
trousers ( def 1 ).
2.
underpants, especially for women and children; panties.
3.
British. men's underpants, especially long drawers.
Idioms
4.
wear the pants, to have the dominant role; be in charge: I guess we know who wears the pants in that family.

Origin:
1830–40; short for pantaloons

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
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
 
adj
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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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

pants
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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Slang Dictionary

wear the pants (in the house) definition


  1. tv.
    to be the boss in the house; to run a household. : All right, if you have to wear the pants, have it your way.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

wear the pants

Exercise controlling authority in a household, as in Grandma wears the pants at our house. This idiom, generally applied to women and dating from the mid-1500s, a time when they wore only skirts, equates pants with an authoritative and properly masculine role. Originally put as wear the breeches, it remains in use despite current fashions.

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