Today’s The Weight of Words was generated by my need to know the correct spelling of a word that I’ve said quite often but never needed to write. Until now.
Pants, jeans, slacks, trousers, breeches…or is it britches?
According to Grammarist.com, breeches are short trousers that extend to or below the knee. When speaking informally, breeches is a term that may refer to any trousers. Breeches is a plural noun, the preferred pronunciation is BRIchiz. The word breeches appears around 1200 and comes from the Old English word brec, the plural of broc, meaning a garment for the legs and trunk. Breeches cover a person’s posterior. The word breech has come to refer to a baby trying to emerge from the womb posterior first, and the part of a gun behind the bore.
Britches are also short trousers that extend to or below the knee, but when speaking informally, britches is a term that may refer to any trousers. Britches is a plural noun, the preferred pronunciation is also BRIchiz. Britches first came into use in 1571. It is an alternate spelling of breeches, and also, a less formal spelling.
I’ve compared the definitions several times and conclude that the only difference is whether or not you want to use the formal or informal spelling in your writing. They are pronounced the same.
In either case, gangstas, please pull up your BRIchiz. Problem solved.