Posted by Smokey Stover on March 03, 2007
In Reply to: Hang on to your shorts posted by Mr Wind on March 03, 2007
: My friend said with me:"Hang on to your shorts!" but I couldn't understand this
: phrase.Can you explain it?Thanhk
It means something like, "You're going for a ride," figuratively, or "You're not going to believe this!" It's a mutation of "Hang onto your hat," which means, figuratively, you're not going to believe this, or you're in for a ride (meaning, a surprise. perhaps a revelation, or, more likely, a series of surprises or revelations or shocks).
"Hang onto your hat," used literally, is obviously appropriate to a windy situation in a time period when men wore hats. (Few people ever tell women to hang onto their hats.) Nowadays it is sometimes used for a physical situation, such as visiting a windy area, or riding a bus on a bumpy road, even though men scarcely ever wear hats anymore except for ceremonial purposes or as a mark of office.
How did one's hat become one's shorts? Primarily because "hat" is old hat, while shorts, with their slightly vulgar, even suggestive, tone are in, as in "bite my shorts."
Were you thinking of using this phrase? I'd advise against it. It sounds corny whether you say shorts or hats.