Posted by ESC on September 09, 2003
In Reply to: Ants in your pants posted by ESC on September 09, 2003
: : Hi, my phrase of the day is "ants in one's pants." I know it means antsy or restless (my Mom said so), but where does the phrase come from? Thank you,
: : Sax
: : PS: we saw the entry re: fissle/fistle, but that didn't answer the question. Thanx...
: If I find anything else, I'll post again. But the phrase is quite literal. If a person sits on the ground, like during a picnic, he or she probably will get ants in his/her pants. And that makes a person fidget.
Here's a slightly different meaning and a possible source. Although I think the phrase is a lot older than the 1930s.
ANTS IN HIS PANTS - "Excessively restless or eager. Hugh S. Johnson, the colorful former Army general who headed the National Recovery Administration in 1933-34, may have originated this phrase but certainly made it popular. 'Full of beans' and 'full of red ants' convey the same idea." From "Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).