Keep Your Pants On

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Also: Keep your shirt on

Meaning of Idiom 'Keep Your (or one's) Pants On'

When someone is told to keep their pants on, it means they should be patient and wait calmly. 1

Usage

'Keep your pants on' is usually said to a person who is being impatient and seems agitated by having to wait. It is way of saying 'Don't make me rush!'

Examples:

"Are you ready to go? We're going to be late!" said John. "Keep your pants on, I'm almost ready," said Jane.

"Tom says he needs you to come help him right now," said Rob. "Tell him to keep his pants on," said Tom. "I'll be there in a few minutes."

"I really need this paperwork to ready in the next hour, said Frank. "Okay, keep your shirt on, I'm working on it," said Victoria.

Origin

Used since the early 1900's and perhaps earlier, this idiom and its variation originally mean 'stay calm' or 'don't get excited.' It is unknown what not removing one's pants or shirt has to do with staying calm or waiting.

Sources
1. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill's American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.

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