Posted by Pamela on May 19, 2006
In Reply to: Too big for your britches posted by Smokey Stover 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
"Too big for your boots" or "To big for your britches" are also often said to children, the implication being that the child is insisting that they be treated as older (i.e. bigger) than they are in reality (their real age being measured by the actual size of their clothing). Pamela