trou (1970)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Dec 26 05:37:02 UTC 2006

The latest OED draft entry for "trou" as a clipped form of "trousers"
identifies it as a New Zealandism, with a first cite of 1970. And the
phrase "drop trou" = 'pull down one's pants' is identified as "orig.
and chiefly U.S." with a first cite of 1976. This might suggest that
"trou" somehow traveled from New Zealand to the U.S. in the '70s. But
here's a U.S. cite from 1970:

Harvard Crimson, May 8, 1970
Spider wanted to rap about white socks. "You like the bright cottons
or the wooly whites?" Spider asked.
"I'm a cotton man, myself. Your feet don't sweat as much."
"Besides," Spider pointed out, "cotton ones look better, especially
with black trou."

Since this cite occurs in the context of '50s-style greasers (at a Sha
Na Na concert), it's very possible that "trou" dates back another
decade or two in U.S. usage.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list