ANSWERS: 1
  • (http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19990427) That would be "waist" -- not "waste". The usual meaning of the word pantywaist is 'an effeminate or weak man or boy; sissy'. Example: "I think my career has shown I'm not exactly a pantywaist" (John Wayne, in a 1971 Playboy interview). The original sense, though, referred to an article of clothing for children. This pantywaist was an undergarment consisting of short pants and a shirt that buttoned together at the waist. By metonymy, this children's garment was applied disparagingly to an older male who would never normally wear one. Other clothing-based metonyms are skirt as an older slang term for a woman and suit as a recent word for a business executive. An expression that parallels pantywaist in using a woman's garment to refer to weak men is the British English big girl's blouse; the Longman Idioms Dictionary cites such examples as "Go on then, try and hit me, you big girl's blouse" and "You can't sit in a pub and drink Coke, you big girl's blouse!" Some other metonyms referring disparagingly to men based on items considered inappropriate for masculine men are creampuff and the older cake-eater. The literal use of pantywaist as an item of clothing dates from the 1920s. The 'sissy' sense is first recorded in the mid-1930s and became common rather quickly.

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