Another potential for embarrassment between US and UK English
In the US pants are worn outside your underwear:
In many parts in the UK pants ARE your underwear:
So, it may be inadvisable to say ‘ooh nice pants’ in the UK at a business meeting.
Also ‘pants’ or ‘a pile of pants’ is an idiom meaning really bad, as in ‘that movie was pants’
pile of pants, noun, slang, official term of rejection. Relatively new non-swearing slang term, meaning a load of rubbish or, indeed, knickers. Pants in this sense (NB not trousers as in the US; in the UK pants means underwear) only became slang in the 1990s (according to slang lexicographer Jonathon Green).
Interestingly, the loan-word ‘pantsu’ (パンツ) in Japanese suffers from the same conflicted identity – it can mean either underpants or trousers (though perhaps the former is more common).
Underwear pants for men can be called:
- jockey shorts
- tighty whities
And for women:
- broeks (South African English)