Example (A Russian Soldier Story):

One fresh-faced youth in a photograph hikes his pants onto his waist in a white tent where young soldiers sleep while on base. He looks hurried and anxious, as if he is late for a drill and knows full well the repercussions.

What exactly does it mean to say that someone hikes his or her pants? Although I looked the term up in the dictionary, it's still very difficult to say exactly which meaning is used here.

  • I've never seen or heard this sense of "hike" in the UK but a common British English equivalent is "hoick". oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/hoick. Probably the same root word with different dialect pronunciations. – alephzero Aug 25 '15 at 20:12
  • @alephzero I've heard it. Also "hitch [up]", which I understand has a somewhat different meaning to AE speakers, which given "pants" the author presumable is. – OJFord Aug 25 '15 at 22:57
  • @alephzero, is either "wage hike" or "price hike" common in UK? Both are similar senses of "push up". – BowlOfRed Aug 25 '15 at 23:14
  • @BowlOfRed Yes they are both common, (and also "hitch up" in the sense of "lift something up", rather than "hitch up a horse to a cart" or "get hitched = get married") but I hadn't made the connection between a "price hike" and a "pants hike." Maybe "hike = raise" is used more as a noun than a verb, at least in my part of the UK. – alephzero Aug 25 '15 at 23:48
  • Look up "hike" in any dictionary. – David Richerby Aug 26 '15 at 9:02

To pull them up higher than they were. Typically, this implies grasping by the waist (of the pants) and pulling (usually sharply) upward. Often, this usage means that the pants were on the person, but below where they would typically be worn, and the "hiking" is returning them to their proper location.

Hiking one's pants is a common phrase, although hiking can refer to "forcing upward" more generally. From the OED:

2.a. To force to move or go; to convey forcibly or laboriously; to pull on, up, over, etc.; to ‘drag out’; to increase (a price, etc.).

Also note that "hike" can be an intransitive verb:

2.b. To work upwards out of place. Const. up.

So one can "hike up one's pants", but one's pants may also "hike up" on their own, as when walking.

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It means that he's in the process of pulling his pants further up his body (perhaps he's putting them on, or they were too low before). It's an idiom.

Have a link: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/hike+up

hike up v. 1. To pull up or raise something with a sudden motion, especially a piece of clothing

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