George Bernard Shaw famously said that the United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. You can see the ramifications of this in the puzzle below:

My first instinct was to think ‘there are pants EVERYWHERE’, before I realised they meant British pants, ie underpants.

In the US pants are worn over your underwear. In many parts in the UK pants ARE your underwear.

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).


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

2 thoughts

  1. I am amused that Brits are horrified at American Fanny packs. Apparently they can no longer sit on their fanny, because the language has moved it around to the front. I believe only women have them. 😳

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