“Denim” and “jeans” are originally names of two cities. And are “pants” really named after a clown?


Whether they are skinny, boot-legged, or low-rise, most Americans have at least one pair that we couldn’t live without. Jeans are as American as apple pie, right?

In fact, the word “jean” comes from the French jean fustian. Fustian is a type of twilled cotton cloth originally from Genoa, Italy.

The plural form of the word was first used in 1843 in the United States. Levi Strauss designed a pair of durable work trousers for laborers, complete with copper rivets that reinforced wear-and-tear seams. Eventually, average Janes and Joes adopted jeans, and they became the preferred casual pants for many Americans.

Denim, “a heavy, Z-twist, twill cotton for jeans, overalls, and other work and leisure garments,” derives from the French serge de Nîmes, serge being another twill fabric, “from Nimes,” a town in Southern France.

Pants” is short for pantaloons, a type of tights that were popular centuries ago.

Pantaloons were associated with Pantaloun, a “silly old man character in Italian comedy who wore tight trousers over his skinny legs.” The character was originally San Panteleone, a Christian martyr and a popular saint in Venice.

The next time someone tells you to do something by the seat of your pants, impress them with the following bit of trivia.

Supposedly, the expression that means “by human instinct” was originally used to refer to pilots who were able to sense the condition of the plane by the engine vibrations they felt through the seat of their pants.

We’re taking suggestions for other articles of clothing you would like to learn about. For example, why does a brassiere (the women’s undergarment), sound so much like a brazier (a metal receptacle for holding live coals or other fuel, as for heating a room)? Let us know what you would like to know.

Freelance entertains global aspirations. (Freelance shoes of Paris)

Footwear News May 17, 1993 | Deeny. Godfrey PARIS (FNS) — At a time when many top shoemakers are having trouble balancing their books, Guy and Yvon Rautureau are in the midst of some sweet expansion.

Freelance, the most fashion-forward of the three lines they own, opened its first boutique in Soho, New York, in September — it is owned by Larry and Annette Everston. The Rautureaus and Everston said a store in uptown Manhattan is a definite possibility. A shop in Amsterdam just opened, and there are plans for one in London.

Pom D’Api, the chic kids’ collection that is the brothers’ biggest business, is expanding with a Milan store to open in the spring.

The brothers have also completed the reorganization of Springcourt, the famed but dormant French sneaker manufacturer founded in 1936, and have launched their first men’s line. It is called No Name, said Guy, “because the line’s antibrand or antisocial status. There are far too many brands around with their names plastered all over them. That’s become a real bore.” But right now the line causing the most excitement is Freelance, with its directional collection that puts heavy emphasis on solid, high heels, men’s-style boots and a super-tight fit. “People who want an expressive, flattering shoe (buy Freelance),” said Yvon, adding that recent New York store customers include Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer and Suzanne Vega. see here shoe buy coupon code

Part of what lures customers into the Freelance stores are their unusual interiors. The product of the fertile imagination of British sculptor John Eager, the stores feature anything from recycled Mercedes, aluminium watering cans, giant drills and burnished steel plates to conjure up an apocalyptic but jokey mood. in our site shoe buy coupon code

Guy, 43, tends to concentrate more on the design end of things, while the more loquacious Yvon, 45, directs his energies toward marketing.

“The winter season has been great. Maybe because we finally were completely in synch with the market. In other years, we might just have been a little bit too advanced,” explained Guy. He holds up one of Freelance’s elongated boots with multiple laces, just right for the menswear theme sweeping through women’s fashion, or a pair of snappy city biker boots, perfect for the current Harley Davidson craze.

The Rautureaus like to call themselves “industrial designers,” to distinguish themselves from purer designers like Manolo Blahnik and Philippe Model, who farm out their production to contractors. “We produce most of what we sell in our two plants and keep it within a certain price. Women are intelligent shoppers: they insist on paying a fair price,” said Yvon.

The brothers control a group with annual sales of 150 million francs ($27.8 million), with the largest chunk coming from Pom d’Api, a kids’ line launched in 1975. Pom d’Api’s shoe output is around 2,000 pairs daily — some shoes are made in Asia — and it retails in some 1,700 outlets worldwide. The line offers some very innovative features: sneakers with chunky rubber soles, on which one finds a map of the world, and booties with musical tongues.

These are two men with the smell of leather in their pores — father, grandfather and great grandfather were all cobblers. The pair still live and have one of their plants in La Gaubretiere, a small town in the western French region of the Vendee, where the Rautureau family have lived for over four centuries.

“In 400 years we’ve moved about four kilometers, that comes to about one kilometer a century,” cracked Yvon.

Deeny. Godfrey


  1. Pinkie Halsted -  March 9, 2012 - 5:27 pm

    The gambling referred to as business looks with austere disfavor upon the company called gambling.
    There is only one boss. The buyer. And that he can fire everybody inside company from your chairman on down, merely by spending his money somewhere else.

  2. louis paiz -  December 15, 2010 - 5:42 am

    thanks for the information about jeans,because once i read that jeans start as uniforms for prisioners. i dont like to wear jeans. regardin that they were fustian in spanish is fustan and is a pirce of garment weared by women as under wear. thank you very much

  3. cyberbrook -  December 12, 2010 - 6:54 am

    It’s also interesting that most jeans are still blue and that such a high percentage of students, but others as well, wear blue jeans on a regular basis. I still wear “jeans”, but I haven’t worn “dungarees” since the 70s. Now my son wears them too!

  4. Polite -  August 26, 2010 - 9:23 pm

    “Nattypoos on August 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Could you please not use the expression “as American as apple pie” – especially in a text about etymology?”

    I think that was the point, Jeans is as American as apple pie, as in neither thing is.

  5. Nattypoos -  August 23, 2010 - 9:22 am

    well – Gênes is the French for Genoa (but Jean = John). So it’s quite possible to get from Gênes (pronounced “zhen”) to jeans, with the usual garbling that occurs when a word is borrowed from one language by another.

  6. Aaron -  August 23, 2010 - 8:20 am

    erm.. on August 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

    did anybody read the article? the word jeans doesn’t come from Genoa, it comes from the French word jean fustian, which is a type of fabric FROM Genoa. and if jeans are as American as apple pie, how come the names are all from French?

    Uh, erm…..
    I believe Jean fustian is french for “a thick twilled cotton fabric from the city of Genoa”. Jean=Genoa in french. Any french speakers out there that can clarify? An English map spells the names of cities in Europe differently then natives say or spell it in their native tongue. You should feel silly for writing in such a fustian tone Mr. erm. :-)

  7. Nattypoos -  August 23, 2010 - 6:56 am

    … and Ray Butler, I think a few musicians from western Africa might disagree with you about blues music, since they’ve been playing and singing a type of music rather similar for maybe thousands of years. Jazz I would say is American, despite all the African and European influences – it was the fusion of these influences that is uniquely American.

  8. Nattypoos -  August 23, 2010 - 6:37 am

    sory Lisa. Baseball is well-documented as having evolved out of the English game “rounders” – to which it is still very similar.

  9. Ray Butler -  August 23, 2010 - 4:55 am

    As American as…Blues music. Now that is something you _can_ legitimately lay claim to.

  10. Janet J. -  August 22, 2010 - 7:20 pm

    Disappointing in a good way. Always thought jeans were as American as apple pie. Not sure why french fries and pizza comes to mind. And are you sure on the pant?

    How did a Christian Saint and martyr become known as a silly old man in Italian comedy (theatre)?

    And is San Panteleone the Christian martyr’s actual name?

    Note: I am not Christian.

  11. lisa -  August 22, 2010 - 6:38 pm

    Is there anything that is “American as…?” If not jeans, not apple pie, then what? Baseball perhaps? Love the history/etymology lesson(s)!

  12. Robert Proctor -  August 22, 2010 - 3:30 pm

    Fascinating story about jeans. Another term for basically the same kind of fabric is “dungarees.” (always used, like jeans, in the singular). I mention this having just read the comment above by “Rodney” about songs with a blue jeans theme. Does anyone remember the following from a comedy show of the ’50s–Steve Allen, maybe?–wherein the “inane” lyrics of songs popular with teenagers were parodied by:

    “Dungaree Doll, Dungaree Doll,
    put my picture on your wall
    and we’ll go around together, together’” ?

  13. pam -  August 22, 2010 - 2:52 pm

    Interesting that no one mentions dungarees. It seems to me that that was the common name for jeans in the 50′s. See the wikipedia article about jeans.

  14. Maya -  August 22, 2010 - 2:36 pm

    and we – on the other side of the globe (behind the Iron Curtain) – used to rub the sacred (one!!!) pair of jeans (obtained in most incredible ways, including bribing customs officers, begging international truck drivers to bring you a pair, etc.) at the desired spot vigorously with a stone or a piece of tile until the material thinned enough or got pail enough to look cool! yeah, those were the days… :)

    I remember the day I went to school wearing my first pair of jeans – I was the happiest kid on Earth! :)

  15. BERE -  August 22, 2010 - 11:41 am

    @ Dramasponge:
    I agree with you.
    Is more than unbelievable!!
    It is even printed out on the back of the jeans!!!

  16. Rick Turner -  August 22, 2010 - 11:07 am

    This site is not only educational but quite entertaining as well. That said with respect to the trivia why is it “a pair” of jeans when there is only one garmet? A pair of gloves, a pair of shoes, a pair of socks, 2 2 2. Even a pair of scissors…one cutting tool. Things like this keep me awake at night. While we’re at it, if you please, “park” in a “driveway” & “drive” on a “parkway”??

  17. Nattypoos -  August 22, 2010 - 10:34 am

    Could you please not use the expression “as American as apple pie” – especially in a text about etymology? Apple pie was being eaten in England at least as long ago as the 13th century – a good 200 years before America was discovered and another 150 before it was colonised by Europeans: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_pie#The_English_pudding

    So unless native Americans had their own apple pie recipe, then it’s not American at all.

  18. Rodney -  August 22, 2010 - 9:58 am

    My two favorite songs about jeans, just in case you were wondering :-) are Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans” and David Dundas’ song “Jeans On”. Both great songs from the 70′s. Dundas’ song was from the 70′s, I’m not sure if Neil’s was 70′s or 80′s. Keith Urban did a remake of “Jeans On”. It’s not bad, but not as good as the original. Carry on. :-)

  19. Ismenin -  August 22, 2010 - 9:34 am

    CaptiousNut on August 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm
    When I was a youth…

    Not only did one have to get up to manually change the TV channel (to one of the other 9 channels), but we also had to *break-in* or *wear-out* blue jeans. It was a lot of work getting them to look cool, throwing in the washing machine and dryer over and over.

    These kids today have no idea how good they have it!

    Yup, captious – here, in the UK, in the late 50′s early 60′s, one could buy one type of jeans. They were men’s, and you had to shrink to fit if you are a gal, like me. This entailed sitting in the bath for an hour, until the water cooled (and the dye made your lower body blue or black (according to choice) then getting out and wearing them until they dried on you in the appropriate shape.

    Ah, the old days. :D

    Knew abt Pantalone, too. I must be a swot!! Have always known abt denim, but was surprised at jeans.

  20. MOHANBHARATH -  August 22, 2010 - 9:23 am

    wow its superb!!!!!!!!!

  21. erm.. -  August 22, 2010 - 9:16 am

    did anybody read the article? the word jeans doesn’t come from Genoa, it comes from the French word jean fustian, which is a type of fabric FROM Genoa. and if jeans are as American as apple pie, how come the names are all from French?

  22. Jeevendra -  August 22, 2010 - 9:05 am

    A very enlightening article. Good work to the guys @ Dicks :)

    As for your last comment, i won’t be amused if the brassier & brazier spring from the same root. May be the word brassier, sprung from the word brazier since “Brassier” is a receptacle for holding something as hot as coal :D

    Pardon for being a male chauvinistic pig! Sorry ladies it’s only a joke…

  23. lalalala -  August 22, 2010 - 7:24 am

    i love words…they’re so full of language and mystery, it’s quite fantastic.

  24. Hooplah -  August 22, 2010 - 6:17 am

    Levi Strauss. LEVIIIII.

  25. Penky -  August 22, 2010 - 5:56 am

    Very educational. Keep them coming. Thanks

  26. Carrie -  August 22, 2010 - 4:21 am

    Actually, jeans really are about as American as apple pie, considering that apples aren’t native to North America.

  27. Justin Bieber!!!!!! :) -  August 22, 2010 - 3:01 am


  28. Justin Bieber!!!!!! :) -  August 22, 2010 - 2:59 am


  29. Beyonce -  August 22, 2010 - 2:56 am

    i just love Jeans!!!

  30. Lady Ga Ga -  August 22, 2010 - 2:55 am


  31. Amira Azam -  August 22, 2010 - 1:49 am

    cool. never knew it before.

  32. haris christophorou -  August 22, 2010 - 1:40 am

    CaptiousNut we bleached ours in chlorine, or if you lived on the coast exposed them to sea and sun, which took much longer of course.

  33. D in BC -  August 21, 2010 - 8:36 pm

    Love this etymology. Most entertaining. Thanks Dictionary.com.

  34. what' for today's lunch? -  August 21, 2010 - 8:28 pm

    Words of etymology are confusing but full of contents.

  35. Bob Catlin -  August 21, 2010 - 7:27 pm

    Yes, I always thought that the word ‘Jean’ came from ‘Genoa’, a port in Northwest Italy. During the Napoleonic Wars (1803 -1815), the Royal Navy blockaded the entire coastline from Denmark in the north to the Mediterranean, as far as Italy, in the east. As the various fleets stayed at sea for six months at a time there was an urgent need to replace ships’ stores. These stores were purchased by the Mediterranean Fleet from chandlers in the port of Genoa and they included sail-cloth. Sailors called this stout cotton-drill material ‘jean cloth’. The sail-cloth was also used to clothe British seamen throughout the fleets – ordinary clothing did not last long in a Biscay gale. Such garments are used by the military today: the army wear khaki-drill and the navy duck-bill. Later, during industrialisation workmen took advantage of the hardworking denim twill in the form of overalls.

    Jeans were taken across the Atlantic to the Caribbean by the Royal Navy, The Caribbean was also a theatre of naval operations during that long war between the British and the French. The word ‘jean’ was adopted by Mexicans through contact with the Navy who again replenished their ships’ stores, this time from Mexican ports. Later, the jean migrated north to the US through contact between Mexican and American cattle ranchers.

  36. Dramasponge -  August 21, 2010 - 7:25 pm

    I can’t believe you people would read the article and still misspell Levi Strauss.

  37. CaptiousNut -  August 21, 2010 - 6:48 pm

    When I was a youth…

    Not only did one have to get up to manually change the TV channel (to one of the other 9 channels), but we also had to *break-in* or *wear-out* blue jeans. It was a lot of work getting them to look cool, throwing in the washing machine and dryer over and over.

    These kids today have no idea how good they have it!

  38. Volt -  August 21, 2010 - 5:08 pm

    This is awesome.

  39. Sam -  August 21, 2010 - 4:01 pm

    I knew about Levy Stauss and his Jeans, and how he also made those for miners, well I guess, that’s laborers. I also knew that pantaloons were a long ago popular thing to wear. What shocked me the most was that there were men named Pantaloon, of course in diffrent spelling. And I thought that was pretty wicked the way the words were french terms, repeated from Italy. xP

  40. Heliophobic -  August 21, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    This is a very good one. Jeans from the word Genoa, a city. Wow.

  41. Raela -  August 21, 2010 - 2:42 pm

    I thought everything originated from Levy Strauss.


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