Have you ever wondered about the origins of ladies’ underwear? Have you ever asked yourself, why are ladies’ underwear called knickers? 

Maybe you didn’t actually ask yourself that question, but after reading this blog post you will certainly be curious and wondering how this term was created in the first place. 

Let me explain everything and maybe get too detailed along the way.

History Of Knickers:

Knickers have been around for a long time. In fact, knickers are even mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. They were originally a style of breeches worn by both men and women. 

The most common type of knickers today consists of a pair of shorts with an elastic waistband and leg openings that extend below the knees.

Why are ladies’ underwear called knickers?

The word “knickerbockers” comes from Dutch settlers who lived in New York City in the 17th century. The Dutch word “knieboeg” means “knee britches.” 

Men wore long pants that extended down past their knees, so they were called knee-breeches or knee-britches.

Knickers became popular when women began wearing them as an undergarment or overskirt in the 19th century instead of dresses or skirts. 

They kept their legs warm and protected them from dirt while playing sports like tennis and golf.

Why is it called a pair of knickers?

The word ‘knickers’ is now used for women’s underwear, but it originally meant ‘trousers’.

In fact, the word ‘knickerbockers’ was first used for loose-fitting trousers that could be worn by both men and women.

During the early nineteenth century, women’s underwear was made up of two separate legs that were attached at the waist.

They really were a ‘pair’. 

At first women’s drawers were usually very plain but in the late 19th century they were decorated with lace and bands.

There are several theories as to how they got their name. The most popular one is that they were named after Baron von Knickerbockers, who supposedly wore them during an expedition to Argentina in 1842. 

Another story says that they were named after a character called Mr. Knickerbocker in Washington Irving’s book History of New York (1809).

There is one more theory about it which says that the term ‘knickers’ was first used in Britain in 1873 but didn’t become popular until after World War II when American soldiers brought back jeans from Europe.

What are knickers called in America?

Underwear is called panties in America.

In the UK, they are called knickers.

Panties came into use in the 1920s and since then it has been a word used to refer to women’s underwear. The word knicker is derived from the knikker. 

The original word was used to refer to male underwear but later became associated with female underwear as well.

The American term pantie is derived from the French pantalon, meaning “pants”, which was used to refer to both men’s and women’s underwear. 

It was first recorded in 1883 and gradually replaced panties for women by the early 1900s.

Is the word knickers rude?

The word knickers are not rude; it simply means “women’s underpants” or “men’s shorts.” 

However, there is one slang phrase that uses knickers in a rude way: get one’s knickers in a twist (or bunch or knot), which means “to get overly upset” and is typically used in a rude command not to do that. 

For example, “Stop getting your knickers in a twist over every little thing! Calm down!”

Do they say knickers in Australia?

Yes, they say knickers in Australia.

Knickers is the most common term used for panties in Australia, along with undies and pants.

In Australia, it’s also common to use ‘pants’ as a general term for underwear.

Why are panties called knickers in England?

The term ‘knickers’ to mean women’s underwear is British, but it is not a particularly old word. 

It was first recorded in 1879 in the Oxford English Dictionary, so it is certainly no more than a hundred years old.

The OED suggests that the word might be related to knickerbockers (short trousers), which were popular at the time, but there is no evidence for this. 

It is likely that the word was simply made up by someone who wanted to create a new term for women’s underwear.

In Britain, knickers have remained the standard term for women’s underwear, while in America they have been replaced by panties (or pantyhose).


I bet you were wondering what this means and it turns out there is a neat story behind it.

So, it’s quite clear that, while they can be traced back to the same root, “knickers” and “knickerbockers” have very different sounds and images. 

Where one conjures up images of childhood innocence and freedom, the other conjures up images of athletic, male athleticism (think: knickerbockers on a cricket field). 

This leads us to the origin of “knickerbocker,” from which we must start.