The other day I used the word “panties” and a friend mine told me she didn’t like the word. I wanted to question her as to why she considered the word Taboo but I realized she was already a bit embarrassed. I asked some other lady friends and most them considered it intimate and Taboo, too. But why can’t I just use the word in a sentence? It sure is fun to say — “panties” kind of rolls of your tongue (no sexual innuendo intended).

Because I am an engineer, I am going to methodically analyze empirical data and then use deductive reasoning to unravel this mystery as opposed to using psychological mumbo jumbo. So, let’s start with the etymology of the word “panties”. The English word “pantaloons” is an article of clothing covering each leg separately, that covers the area from the waist to the ankle. This English word is derived from the French pantalon, itself derived from the Italian pantalone, named after Saint Pantaleon.

Saint Pantaleon became so closely associated with the inhabitants of Venice that they were popularly known as Pantaloni. Consequently, among the commedia dell’arte’s stock characters the representative Venetian (a stereotypically wealthy but miserly merchant) was called Pantalone, or Pantalon in French. In the mid-17th century the French came to identify him with one particular style of trousers, a style which became known as pantaloons in English. [The Free Dictionary]

The shortening of the word “pantaloons” results in the slang “pants.” The diminutive of “pants” is “panties” which means “underpants for women or children.” Of course, a “diminutive” is the formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment.

Well that certainly explains why it is plural and its indirect relationship to a Saint explains why us men believe the contents of a woman’s panties to be divine and heavenly. The origin of word itself isn’t vulgar or taboo so it must be the context in which it is used. Let’s explore some common phrases in which the word is used and analyze their meaning.

The phrase “That guy bags more panties than a cashier at Victoria’s Secret” seems to imply that “panties” are trophies. The number of trophies one posses directly correlates to the number of concubines. Baring any women which may have been in commando-mode, there will be a one-for-one correlation which could be used as a way to quantitatively measure the strength of one’s PIMP hand or general rating as a “Playboy.” So, this phrase certainly could be construed as disrespectful toward women.

Let’s consider how the word could be used in a more intimate setting such as the bedroom. A man says to his partner, “I want to wear your panties on my head over one eye like a pirate’s patch and a place a parrot on my left shoulder… then yell, ‘Time for ya to walk the penis plank.. arrrggghhh‘”. In my opinion, this is just just healthy role playing — besides, everyone likes to talk like a pirate.

Thongs are complicated (See FAIL Blog)

Speaking of a pirate’s patch, I am not a fan of the thong. It is like butt floss and I don’t know how women could wear such a contraption. My use of the word “contraption” is justified by the picture to the right which clearly illustrates why thongs should include an instruction manual. This picture is from the Fail Blog website — which you must visit for some great laughs.

Lastly, the phrase “I bet her panties smell like Easter candy” could most certainly be a compliment if delivered without a furtive smile. Additionally, it is critical the man avoids hand gestures which could be misconstrued as sexual in nature when he delivers this compliment.

As a side note and for the sake of completeness, the word “panties” is most prevalent in the U.S. and Canada while the word “knickers” is used in U.K. and Commonwealth. When I was living in England, I was in a club in the West End of London with an English buddy of mine. I had commented on a very attractive young woman as she passed by and he simply said, “Fur coat no knickers“. I wondered how he knew she was in commando-mode but later I learned it was a derogatory phrase meaning a woman, all superficial in appearance but no real substance beneath.

In conclusion, I believe it is in fact the context which the word is used. Since this intimate undergarment is right next to a woman’s… you know… her Hoo-Hoo — only intimate situations are appropriate. Therefore, out of respect for my friend I will use the word “drawers” in lieu of “panties”.