phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

The Phrase Finder

Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Wear the trousers

The meaning and origin of the expression: Wear the trousers

Browse phrases beginning with:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ - Full List

Wear the trousers

more like this...
...other phrases about:


Be in charge.


Left quote icon
An old English folk tale has it that parsley grows best in a household where the wife wears the trousers.
right quote
To be 'wearing the trousers' is to be the dominant member of a household. In the days that this phrase was coined that person was normally expected to be the husband and father. The only reason to employ the phrase at all was to relate it to a woman, with the implication that the normal order had been overturned and that a woman was dominant over her husband.

The phrase was known in the USA from the late 19th century. It probably originated there as printed reference to it elsewhere don't appear until well into the 20th century. The Manitoba Daily Free Press used the term in November 1880, in an article about the domestic life of White Indians and their squaws - who we would now call Native Americans:

"The squaws are very beautiful and are as fond of ornaments as Indian women usually are. The women are called ladies and they sometimes wear the trousers or boss the white Indians, their husbands."

See other phrases that were coined in the USA.