I was wondering what do you normally call each piece of clothing in the images below? I have found the nouns "stockings", "leggings", "pantyhose" and "tights", but dictionaries do not provide me with enough information to tell them apart! Also, according to the dictionary definitions, they usually are used by women / girls, while if you google them, you'll immediately find out that they can be used for men as well. However, I have no idea whether the database of these webpages has been written by native speakers! I would be appreciative if you do me a favor and help me to distinguish these words:

Image 1: (Men's sport short covering) and Image 2: (Women's sport short covering)

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Image 3: (Men's long sport covering) and Image 4: (Women's long sport covering)

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Image 5: (Women's normal legs covering) and Image 6: (Women's transparent covering)

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2 Answers 2


This is an American answer. Terminology might be different in other regions.

1 and 2: If meant for cycling, they're called cycling shorts. If used for running or other sports they're called compression shorts.

3, 4, and 5: These are tights. When worn by women, they could also be called leggings.

6: These are pantyhose or nylons.

Stockings normally cover the lower leg and feet.

  • Only picture 4 is leggings, as they have no feet.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 19:54

This is a British answer.

Tights are a close-fitting opaque covering for the lower body and feet, worn by acrobats and ballet dancers, for example.

Leggings are similar, but don't cover the feet - now fashionable casual wear for women.

Stockings were originally (separate) knitted or fabric coverings for the feet and lower legs. In the 20th century, as women's skirts became shorter, they evolved into thigh-length transparent coverings held up with a (Br.) suspender belt or (Am.) garter belt.

Later in the century they evolved into the more comfortable all-in-one garment in your last picture. We Brits call them tights because they are the same shape as dancers' tights. Americans call them pantyhose (hose being another word for stockings).

  • Thank you @Kate Bunting. Then, could you possibly let me know what you normally call each picture in Britain (except #6 which as you mentioned you call them "tights".)
    – A-friend
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 10:28
  • 1
    About the shorts, I'll go with what The Photon says. (3) tights, although the toes seem to be uncovered, (4) leggings (no feet!) (5) tights. Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 10:38
  • Everything you say re tights, leggings and stockings applies to American English as well. And we call pantyhose, tights too. Though if a dancer tights are not pantyhose.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 19:55
  • @Lambie Oh - I had been given to understand that tights/pantyhose was one of those 'separated by a common language' differences. Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 7:44

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