the semantics of pants
Started conversation Jul 25, 2002
(Or, the semantics of trousers, if you prefer.)
In the US, pants come down to the ankles, or, as is often the case, the heels or the floor on which the wearer of said pants is standings. Shorts start at the waist and stop anywhere from just short of indecent exposure to the upper part of the shin. Boys' shorts are very baggy, usually with cargo pockets on the sides, and come down to the knees; they are often worn hanging far below the boxers, which are worn alone or covering a pair of underwear (briefs or UK pants). Girls' shorts are either short shorts stopping somewhere in the upper half of the thigh, or capris (they were clamdiggers back in the 60s or 70s or whenever my mother became acquainted with the term) that come down just below the knee. Most schools have anti-short shorts regulations. My school requires that shorts go below the knees. (I'm a girl but I have started wearing boys' shorts because of this code, and because I really hate capris.)
We also have zipoff pants (has this mostly-for-marketing innovation spread to the UK yet?), which detach by zipper at the knees to make shorts. Pants are baggy for boys and tight for girls.
Other miscellany: Melvins are wedgies here as well as in Australia, and as far as I know, the practice is isolated to TV shows like The Simpsons. For being a dork or talking like one, you are thrown into a different social caste. Ah, the cruel and inhumane world of middle-school society.
Also, da bomb, or the bomb or dah-bomb, was very short-lived, at least in my area (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the Midwest, and a fairly big city so I don't think our terminology is dated). It had its life while I was in fifth grade, so it was born five years ago and died after about nine months. It succeeded 'fresh' and was replaced by 'tight'.