Posted by Smokey Stover on May 18, 2006
In Reply to: Re: Too big for your britches posted by ESC on May 18, 2006
: : What exactly does "too big for your britches" mean and where does it originate?
: You are acting "big," "uppity," above your station, etc., to the point that you are too large to fit in your slacks/britches/pants.
As ESC points out, britches, colloquial variant of breeches, means pants. The OED comments thus: "e. Fig. phr. to get, grow, etc., too big for one's boots (breeches, etc.), to become conceited, put on airs.
1835 D. CROCKETT Tour to North 152 When a man gets too big for his breeches, I say Good-bye. 1879 [see BOOT n.3 1c]. 1893 H. MAXWELL Life of W. H. Smith I. ii. 57 Sometimes a young man, 'too big for his boots', would..sniff at being put in charge of a railway bookstall. 1905 H. G. WELLS Kipps III. ii. S1 He's getting too big for 'is britches. 1929 W. FAULKNER Sound & Fury 270 You're getting a little too big for your pants." SS