What not to say…

A touque

So we had snow in London on Tuesday…well technically it was only in North London but it was the first time in 70 years that it has snowed in any part of London in October. It has brought in some fairly chilly weather and was the main topic of conversation with just about anyone who ventured out during the day.


This sudden chillyness has made me acknowledge a few winter words which they absolutely do not use here:

1) Touque

2) Snow pants (or ski pants)


The first one I figured was pretty Canadian …a touque is a winter hat (or knit cap as my American colleague calls it) and admittedly sounds fairly French, pronounced um well….two-ke. So Canadians, if you are in London and say ‘Tomorrow I must remember my touque’ realise that most people have no idea what you are talking about and think that it could mean anything from a fancy name for your lunch, handbag or that you are bringing in two of something unknown. 

The second one isn’t so much about the snow or ski bit but it’s about the reference to pants. Pants here unequivocally means underwear…it’s not like when I say truck and they know I mean lorry, or sweater and they figure I mean a jumper…when you say pants in Britain  they assume undergarments so if you walk into the office on a rainy day and say aaaah I hate it when I get my pants wet, people will laugh, if you tell a colleague that you like her pants, she will reach awkwardly for her waistband and hike it up thinking that her thong is sticking out…trust me as I have done both.

I have had trouble as ‘trousers’ as they call them here is an old man word and makes me think of a little geezer in a hat with a cane wearing wool patterned ‘trousers’.  I have slightly gotten over my stuffy perception of what trousers are and have started using it mainly because of the very odd looks I get from people when I talk about my ‘pants’ or need new ‘pants’.

The term for ski pants here is ski trousers or the ever logical Salopallets…riiight…maybe I will wear my salopallets with my touque and screw everyone up.




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One Response to What not to say…

  1. Johnny says:

    I think you’ll find, m’dear, that pants referring to underwear is purely Southern English thing. We proper speakers in the North all know that pants mean trousers. And don’t you forget it. 😉

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