What is the semantic difference between the two words "undergarment" and "underwear"? I have researched and found out that:

  1. "Undergarment" is used for any type of clothes which one wears beneath, while "underwear" can be only bra, panties and briefs.
  2. "Undergarment" is considered a very old-fashioned word these days.

Please have a look on the following links:



Do you confirm my take on this?

  • I don't think underwear is as restricted as you say. Boxers are also underwear. Long underwear is also underwear. – The Photon Apr 14 '19 at 19:43

I agree with what you found. Undergarments is something that grandparents might say, or someone who wants to sound sophisticated (perhaps like a butler or something). Although "underwear" may seem like literally clothing you wear underneath, it has come to refer to clothing that specifically covers breasts and private parts, while undergarment maintains the original meaning.

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  • Thank you very much @mirve. Just let me know whether the word underwear can encapsulate some other pieces of clothing like an "undershirt" or e.g some tight pants which elderly people/soldiers or ordinary people in a cole environment wear too. – A-friend Apr 15 '19 at 11:39
  • @A-friend in American English, I would not consider those underwear. From context, it could probably be understood, but native speakers probably wouldn't think of those if they heard the word underwear. – mirve Apr 17 '19 at 19:42
  • then what do you call them? – A-friend Apr 17 '19 at 20:59
  • What does underwear mean in AmE and which clothing pieces does it encompass? – A-friend Apr 17 '19 at 21:01

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