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Under Where?
by Michael Franklin

Recently published research by InCycleIPeedHereBritannica has produced some interesting revelations on the topic of word origins and meanings. It tells us that the familiar word underwear originated in the nineteenth century as a question ‘under where?’ It appears that the manufacture of undergarments was becoming more refined. For men the selection was limited. They had only one concern and that was warmth and comfort. For women, being more conscious of the need to move with fashion, hoping for dignity as well as comfort, choices and tastes were wider. The word origins were simple and logical.

Pants were deep breaths of course. More energy was required to raise the garments that took that name. That resulted in a shortage of breath. It is, as we all know, not an easy physical task to bend down and pull something up from foot level. The word was feminised in the twentieth century to become panties, but energy was still required to raise them.

Bloomers were pretty floral displays then as they are now, spreading widely and admired for their prettiness. The undergarment that adopted that name was large - stretching from below the knee to the waist. It would be elasticated at the top and at the lower ends. Colours would be gentle and delicate embroidery gave them a feminine taste.

Knickers have always been thieves. The application of the word to an undergarments resulted from their cheeky brevity. They attracted intrusive and invasive men who would steal intimate privileges from women in an arrogant way.

Drawers have always been places to store valued possessions. Women in the nineteenth century regarded those parts of their anatomy covered by their undergarments as valuable and private. When they were uncovered their owners felt uncomfortable, but when they had been put back into storage then life was more placid and safe.

Briefs and Smalls are words that describe and define themselves. As fashion advanced into the twentieth century, wearing less -  and therefore smaller - became an accepted change in fashion for women.

The word Lingerie came from France. We understand the meaning of the English version - linger. It means hesitate. As part of their nature women have always expected polite hesitation from men when a mutual physical activity is imminent (sex - not karate).

Trunks are only worn by men. The word describes the lumpy length of timber that occupies them.