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How do you call the wear for legs in general? That which includes trousers, breeches, leggings, jeans etc? Or do you use "trousers" as this general word? How then you call the trousers proper (those from a modern business suite for example)?

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    In the U.S., the general word would probably be pants. – J.R. Jun 14 '14 at 9:31
  • What about "bottom-half clothing"? - Unlikely to be any good, but in the UK we do refer to the "bottom half" when in doubt as to the appropriate word for an item of clothing. E.g. "Did you see what she had on her bottom half?" – JMB Jun 14 '14 at 9:31
  • @JMB bottom-half will include a skirt but I am referring to the wear that covers the both legs separately. – Anixx Jun 14 '14 at 9:39
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    Fair enough. I imagine @J.R. has nailed it for the US side of things, and you yourself said "trousers" which strikes me as the best for the UK. – JMB Jun 14 '14 at 9:55
  • @JMB so how would you call the trousers proper then? "Classic trousers?" – Anixx Jun 14 '14 at 10:00
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I'm not sure such a hypernym exists:

  • trousers denotes clothing that covers the all or most of both legs separately. Trousers don't usually go above the waist.
  • skirts/dresses/robes denotes clothing that covers both legs together. (Kilts refer specifically to skirts for men.)
    Robes/dresses generally refer to clothing that covers the torso as well as the legs, but skirts and kilts generally don't.
  • shorts denotes clothing that covers both legs separately, from the knees (or thereabouts) up.
  • legwear is a term that I've not heard in reference to the above, but it invokes pantyhose or hosiery for me (and indeed, Wikipedia redirects legwear to hosiery).
    It seems to be the case that it refers only to clothing that covers only the legs and feet.

Interestingly, we have the hypernym tops to refer to clothing that covers the torso, and with that I have the intuition that usage skews toward describing the clothing of this type worn by women - men tend to refer to all tops by their more specific meronym.
It's been suggested that bottoms is a possible hypernym that includes all of the above clothing, but I'm not entirely sure about this one - while it's intuitively the opposite of tops, it may only work in proximity to tops, for instance:

Our choir performs in white tops and black bottoms

but not

They wear woollen bottoms

This second example sounds odd to me, and it wouldn't be immediately apparent that it meant trousers/skirts. My initial reaction is that they wear some kind of woollen covering around their waist/hip/buttocks, like extremely short pants.


Short answer: No. Unfortunately, trousers refers to clothing that covers all or most of both legs separately, and it excludes some clothing included by shorts. You'd probably need to use both, and I'm not sure whether leggings are covered by it, either - you might need to say trousers, shorts and leggings, I'm afraid.

  • I do not ask for skirts. Is the trousers the general word for wear that covers the legs separately? – Anixx Jun 14 '14 at 16:19
  • @Anixx unfortunately, trousers refers to clothing that covers all or most of both legs separately, and it excludes some clothing included by shorts. You'd probably need to use both, and I'm not sure whether leggings are covered by it, either - you might need to say trousers, shorts and leggings, I'm afraid. – jimsug Jun 14 '14 at 16:23
  • Are tights included here? – Anixx Jun 14 '14 at 16:33
  • @Anixx I would say no, but they would be covered by leggings. – jimsug Jun 14 '14 at 16:36
  • What about the wear that covers the both legs that was used by ancient peoples, for example, the ones from skin or fur. Should it also be called "trousers"? – Anixx Jun 14 '14 at 16:37

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