Absurd Q #144: Why do we say a “pair of pants” or “pants” instead of “pant”? What’s with the plurality?

I mean, it’s not like a pair of socks. You have two distinct articles of clothing meant to be together, and woe to the poor dryer that tries to separate the two forever.

When talking about part of the pants, like a specific leg, you don’t call it the “pants leg”, but it’s “a pant leg” or “the pant leg” if there’s some paint or a hole or something on it.

Why “pair of pants”? It’s one article of clothing. Was there a day where you’d put on a “pant” on each leg separately?

I guess that hole in my last good work pant (ha!) got me thinking this morning.

Because also, for women, if it’s a business outfit, it’s a pantsuit, not a pantssuit, right?

Any theories about our crazy habit of making things plural that just feel weird? I did a quick Google search and it turns out there are tons of other people speculating on the same thing, so we’re not alone with weird thoughts now (ha!). Looking up and down the thread at the English language stackexchange site might make your head explode in a few short minutes (or give you something new to think about).

Seriously, anybody ever get an answer to this one for yourself, or found a reason this odd plural-thing sticks around so much in our fun little language? Floor’s yours…

P.S.–While we’re at it, why “pair of scissors,” “pair of pliers,”…

4 thoughts on “Absurd Q #144: Why do we say a “pair of pants” or “pants” instead of “pant”? What’s with the plurality?

      • bobcabkings says:

        They would make fairly good letter openers. I looked up; it is plural in Spanish (las tijeras), in German (Schere), in French (les ciseaux), in Latin (forceps), in Russian (nozhnitsy), in Sanscrit (kartarī ) — so, the plural form goes way, way back, like maybe to the invention of the tool.

        Liked by 1 person

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