'Get into her pants' (was: Knickers)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Nov 7 23:04:13 UTC 2009

On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 6:49 AM, Damien Hall <djh514 at york.ac.uk> wrote:
> Thus Seán: (sorry about the HTML; I'm not entirely able to decode it, so I
> haven't cleaned it all up):
> "How old is the 'pants'=3D'underpants' usage?
> Assuming it is WWI and before, it would give more immediacy and cogency to
> 'get into her pants' from a time when women didn't wear trousers as
> regularly as they do nowadays."
> I agree. 'Get into her pants' is common in BrE too, so it had never even
> occurred to me that 'pants' in that phrase might mean 'trousers' and not
> 'undergarments'. I suppose it depends on the side of the Atlantic where
> 'Get into her pants' can be found earliest.

Earliest cite in OED3 is from _The Gallery_ by American novelist John
Horne Burns:

1946 J. H. BURNS Gallery (1965) 7 You automatically assume that every
GI wants to get into your pants.

_The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang_ marks "get into someone's
pants" as U.S. usage and gives a 1952 cite from another American

George Mandel, _Flee the Angry Strangers_ (1952), p. 220
I've been in more guy's pants than you could count.

Google Books gives more U.S. sources:

Cornelia Sussman, _Teach the Angry Spirit‎_ (1949), p. 33
"I wouldn't go out with one of those squares!" she yelled at Mercy.
"All they want is to get into your pants!"
Robert Carse, _The Beckoning Waters‎_ (1953), p. 348
Then these Frenchies, they didn't get into your pants.
Garet Rogers (pseud.), _Prisoner in Paradise‎_ (1954), p. 298
Just because you can't get into Isolde Bootmaker's pants doesn't give
you the right to treat me this way.
James Michener, _Rascals in Paradise‎_ (1957), p. 352
Doc bet me a gold cup that I would not get into her pants.
Richard Bankowsky, _A Glass Rose‎_ (1958), p. 114
Maybe you didn't like the color of his eyes or he was pimply-faced,
and in a weak moment, you let him get into your pants.
Frank Yerby, _The serpent and the Staff‎_ (1958), p. 68
And the next time you aim to get into Hester's frilly pants, you let me know.

(These are all displayed in snippet view, so the usual caveats apply.)

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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