Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun plural Breeches.
  • idiom (too big for (one's) britches) Overconfident; cocky.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun dialect Pants, trousers.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun informal term for breeches

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Alteration of breeches, pl. of breech.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Alteration of breeches ("trousers, pantaloons") in use since at least the 18th century in Britain and British colonies.

Examples

  • Harry Reid reminds me of a constipated “old-maid” in britches.

    Think Progress » Drudge’s Non-Story: Reid Has Criticized The Patriot Act For Years

  • I suppose we got our old fashioned expression "britches" from that.

    Protecting Our Daughters

  • Unknown to the stranger the condition of his "britches" had probably given him his credit rating with Old Coonrod, for he held that patches upon the front of trousers, if the seat were whole, were decorations of honor, showing the man had torn them doing something, going forward.

    Sergeant York And His People

  • Some of the boys wore caps, or little white hats with the crown pushed in all around, and, though it wasn't muddy and didn't look as though it were going to rain, each one of them had his "britches" turned up, and that puzzled the mountain boy sorely; but no matter why they did it, he wouldn't have to turn his up, for they didn't come to the tops of his shoes.

    The Heart of the Hills

  • They would then halt, go aside and put on their shoes, while their barefooted gallants, with tow and cotton shirts and "britches," stood in the road till their return.

    Fisher's River (North Carolina) Scenes and Characters

  • His "britches" are dressed buckskin, tight as the skin, with sole-leather buttons sewed on with a leather thong.

    Fisher's River (North Carolina) Scenes and Characters

  • Nearly breathless from laughing, she told me she'd been reaching for some canned pineapple and, because she'd lost so much weight, her "britches" had fallen down!

    Tennessean.com Dickson

  • Nearly breathless from laughing, she told me she'd been reaching for some canned pineapple and, because she'd lost so much weight, her "britches" had fallen down!

    Tennessean.com Dickson

  • Nearly breathless from laughing, she told me she'd been reaching for some canned pineapple and, because she'd lost so much weight, her "britches" had fallen down!

    Tennessean.com Dickson

  • Up until now, I have mainly watched Jeremy's "britches" roles, where he "wears a variety of hats from various periods" (was I think how he put it himself?).

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

Comments

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  • "Newfoundland fishermen also prize the female gonads, a two-pronged organ they call the britches, because its shape resembles a pair of pants. Britches are fried like sounds." (see isinglass)

    —Mark Kurlansky, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (New York: Penguin, 1997), 34

    July 14, 2009