Keep Your Pants On

We are probably guilty of being impatient and rude once in a while as we wait on someone else. If we keep up our attitude, we’re sometimes told to “Keep our pants on.” I’ve never had an urgent desire to remove my trousers when I’m impatient or mad, so why would this phrase somehow suggest to “Be patient?”

Ideas anyone?


I guess you’ve had better luck with women than I have.

At least that’s what I’ve always thought it referred to.

Or not, given that he has to ask this question.

I’ve more often heard the phrase “Keep your shirt on,” the idea, I suppose, being that if you had lost patience, you would remove your shirt in preparation for fisticuffs. “Keep your pants on” may have come about as a “humorous” twist on the phrase.

I found a cite (scroll down) that seems to support my supposition.

I wonder if it’s related at all to the concept of getting one’s knickers in a twist a.k.a. getting one’s panties in a bunch.

Ahem. I see you too have had better luck with women than I have.


I always heard shirt as a kid and pants later. I always assumed that shirt version had been cleaned up just as I learned as a kid “eenie meenie minee moe catch a tiger by the toe”

The first citing of this is “keep your shirt on.” Around 1860.

Then, “keep your hair on,” maybe ten years later.

“Keep your pants on” is a 20th Century invention.