Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Knickers Stories

You could just say that you are angry!


Once again, I had a carefully prepared post but my plans have changed. Which means that it will just be a short post today! I was walking along the river with my daughters during the week-end -the weather was lovely, although a bit cold- when an angry driver, on the embankment, kept tooting his horn. I have no idea why, but for once it wasn't because of my driving because we were quietly walking on the pathway.

My older daughter, always the one to find the right word, said:
"Don't get your knickers in a twist!"


I didn't know this expression, so I asked her what it meant. She explained to me that it meant "don't be angry" or "don't get upset". I was obviously very glad to be still learning at my age. That said, I was really surprised. Where does this expression come from? What do knickers have to do with being angry? Not to mention that getting your knickers in a twist must be painful. Weird.

But what surprised me most is the fact that the Brits are usually very prude. They don't talk about knickers at all. The funny thing is that I cannot think of a similar expression in French. But in France, I can assure you that we do speak about underwears. A lot. Maybe that's the reason why we don't need any expression with " knickers" in it? Just a thought.

I thought I couldn't be surprised any more. But, again, I was wrong...

18 comments:

  1. Another similar phrase, which means the same thing, is 'Keep your wig/hair on!'. I think it's all about maintaining one's calm rather than getting irritated by small things...something we brits clearly need to remind ourselves to do!

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  2. I think it's true to say we will always be, first and foremost, a product of our country of birth, our native land, the place we were socialized. It's interesting to note in Nursing Homes in Canada, someone may have lived here for fifty years or more, but when they are at the end of their lives they speak their native tongue almost exclusively, even though they may have spoken English here.

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  3. There is much more to knickers than meets the eye!

    The name is an abbreviation of Diedrich Knickerbocker, a Dutch character in a popular play in New York towards the end of the C19 who wore the Dutch sleeved pantaloons which became known as Knickerbockers. The word entered common usage after this and has been abbreviated since to knickers, as indeed have the garments themselves.

    The character in the play was based on the first major work of the American writer Washington Irving “A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty”, by Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809), a satire on self-important local history and contemporary politics. Prior to its publication, Irving started a hoax akin to today's viral marketing campaigns; he placed a series of missing person adverts in New York newspapers seeking information on Diedrich Knickerbocker, a crusty Dutch historian who had allegedly gone missing from his hotel in New York City. As part of the ruse, Irving placed a notice—allegedly from the hotel's proprietor—informing readers that if Mr. Knickerbocker failed to return to the hotel to pay his bill, he would publish a manuscript Knickerbocker had left behind.

    Such was the influence of Washington Irving’s work that Knickerbocker became a slang term for inhabitants of Manhattan, hence the desert Knickerbocker Glory.

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  4. we have a similar saying here, just insert "panties" instead of "knickers".

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  5. It almost sounds as if you never got your knickers in a twist (in real life, I mean) have you ever done that? I always seemed to be doing it as a kid. Maybe it was me who made up that saying ... :)

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  6. We say panties in a twist here in America. I think people say it to try and be funny or to downplay what you are upset about. usually it is said with an air of annoyance to make you feel like you are angry over nothing.

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  7. Being the older daughter, I am now quite embarrassed....

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  8. Don't be! You are a STAR!

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  9. This is so funny. Is it an expression that you use often?

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  10. If you made it up, congrats! I just love it. As for getting my knickers in a twist, it hasn't happened for a long long time....I completely forgot how it felt!

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  11. Where you as surprised as I was when you heard it?

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  12. I am very impressed! You are indeed an expert on knickers! Who would have thought?
    That said, I understand that, on the other side of the pond, what we call knickers is called panties. Go figure!

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  13. I keep learning Elizabeth. I really hope to be bilingual, eventually...

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  14. I don't believe it for a single second. Brits rarely lose their temper, don't they? Which is probably why I hadn't heard this expression before....

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  15. Imagine the raised eyebrows if we'd linked some of our favorite sayings - Oh for the love of god, for crying out loud, beehaave, get a life, take a deep breath and don't get your knickers in a knot, being a little upset is infinitely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick ...

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  16. Samantha Bangayan19 January 2012 at 17:38

    Haha! I hadn't thought about this! You're right -- I can't imagine someone from Britain saying anything about knickers other than in this phrase. =P

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  17. I know. The thing is, i know some British expressions but somehow I hadn't come across this one yet! I am wondering why!

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  18. It is funny, isn't it? The Brits are full of surprises...

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