A semi-regular column answering
questions about clothing.
Reader Timmy S. writes in to ask, “When speaking of menswear, which is the preferred term: pants, trousers or slacks?”
Good question, Timmy. Let’s give it an 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.
As you’ll remember from Biology 101, all flora and fauna have scientific names based on their genus and species classification. A brontosaurus is correctly called brachiosaurus altithorax because it turns out there is no such thing as a brontosaurus and Pluto is not a planet.
Clothing is named in a similar manner. The scientific name for men’s two-legged garments is pantaloonus trouseria. This name is sometimes shortened to either “pants” or “trousers.” Both are correct.
You should never refer to men’s pants as “slacks.” Much like the brontosaurus, there is no such thing.
(Here’s a fun online debate raging about this very issue. http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/79710/difference-between-slacks-pants-and-trousers -Ed.)
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