Are 'tank', 'tank top', 'muscle shirt' and 'A-shirt' the same ?

roniy

Senior Member
ISRAEL: Fluent Hebrew ( Speak Russian, Learning English)
Are 'tank', 'tank top', 'muscle shirt' and 'A-shirt' the same ?

I mean, Can they be used alternatively ?

I know that 'tank' and 'tank top' is the same thing and it is like an undershirt but you don't have to wear it under another shirt.
and I think muscle shirt is the same thing.
But does an 'A shirt' mean the same as the above 3 ?

I think 'A-shirts' would be the undershirts that you'd wear under another shirt.

Am I right ?

And I think there is a difference in this use between AE/BE, so I would be glad if you could explain me the American usage.

Thanks in advance,
Roni.
 
  • Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    To me an A-shirt is the same thing as a tank-top. I usually call it a wife-beater though.

    A muscle shirt is:

    a type of sleeveless t-shirt or undershirt that gained popularity as worn by men, but it's now often worn by women as well. The neck is usually similar to that of a regular t-shirt. Muscle shirts can be worn as an undergarment or as a single outer layer. They are meant to be worn as fitted tops, in that their accepted purpose is to showcase physique. However, oversized muscle shirts are often used as nightshirts and, when loose, are generally considered to be a fashion faux pas.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    I'm a BE speaker, but to me:
    A tank is an armoured vehicle
    A tank-top is a sleeveless woollen jumper
    I don't know what a muscle shirt or an A-shirt are.
    I suppose that the item you're referring to is what I would call a vest or a sleeveless t-shirt.
     
    Vests? Yes and no. To a speaker of BE, the answer would be "yes". To a speaker of AE, a "vest" is only a waistcoat, and is never used to refer to this kind of garment -- so the answer would be "no".
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I'm a BE speaker, but to me:
    A tank is an armoured vehicle
    A tank-top is a sleeveless woollen jumper
    I don't know what a muscle shirt or an A-shirt are.
    I suppose that the item you're referring to is what I would call a vest or a sleeveless t-shirt.
    Yes - you're definitions are valid for me too. The only word I recognise from the original list as an item of clothing is "tank-top", which is also a woollen item to my mind.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Vests? Yes and no. To a speaker of BE, the answer would be "yes". To a speaker of AE, a "vest" is only a waistcoat, and is never used to refer to this kind of garment -- so the answer would be "no".

    In BE a waistcoat is only a waistcoat.
    Out of interest, what do Americans call a sleeveless item worn under a shirt?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    You wouldn't call this a tank-top and/or wife-beater?:

    http://www.freshpair.com/itempics/3026_l.jpg

    (Our usage couldn't be that different seeing as I'm from Ireland).
    No, a "tank-top" for me is this

    tanktop.gif


    I didn't realise that it could be used to mean what I would just call a "vest", although now having googled I see it is.

    As for "wife-beater" I only know this as the nick-name of a well-known strong brand of lager, as in

    "A pint of wife-beater for me and a diet-coke for the little lady";).
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    No, a "tank-top" for me is this

    tanktop.gif


    I didn't realise that it could be used to mean what I would just call a "vest", although now having googled I see it is.

    As for "wife-beater" I only know this as the nick-name of a well-known strong brand of lager, as in

    "A pint of wife-beater for me and a diet-coke for the little lady";).

    I'd call that a sleeveless sweater (or maybe even a vest), certainly not a tank-top.

    My mother used to refer to them as vests actually but nowadays they're only referred to as tank-tops (or more popularly wifebeaters), at least around here.
     

    roniy

    Senior Member
    ISRAEL: Fluent Hebrew ( Speak Russian, Learning English)
    I'm a BE speaker, but to me:
    A tank is an armoured vehicle
    A tank-top is a sleeveless woollen jumper
    I don't know what a muscle shirt or an A-shirt are.
    I suppose that the item you're referring to is what I would call a vest or a sleeveless t-shirt.

    Hi,

    I guess the reason you are not familiar with these terms is because they are used among AE speakers and not among BE speakers.
    So, that's why I asked an Amercian opinion or a BE speaker who is familiar with the American usage.

    thanks for your help
     
    A sleeveless item worn under a shirt is a sleeveless undershirt, also known as an a-shirt, or a "wifebeater". A tank top is the same item, although intended to be worn as an exterior garment rather than underwear -- it derives, I suspect, from its similarity to a tank suit (or bathing suit) top.

    The woolen item shown in the picture in the US would probably be called ... a vest!
     

    roniy

    Senior Member
    ISRAEL: Fluent Hebrew ( Speak Russian, Learning English)
    A sleeveless item worn under a shirt is a sleeveless undershirt, also known as an a-shirt, or a "wifebeater". A tank top is the same item, although intended to be worn as an exterior garment rather than underwear -- it derives, I suspect, from its similarity to a tank suit (or bathing suit) top.

    The woolen item shown in the picture in the US would probably be called ... a vest!

    I guess now I understand the difference.

    Thanks you all for the help :)
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia

    US_Shoppers

    New Member
    English - US
    I'm not sure if anyone is still looking at this thread line, as it seems to be a few years old (Ok, 9 yrs, but still) but I found it in my search about Tank vs A-shirt so in case others do as well, here's a longer AE response from someone else in the US:

    Muscle Shirt - A type of men's shirt, basically like a crew neck T-shirt with the arms missing. Fits all the way around the body, arms, and neck. I think these are typically in a cotton jersey. Similar shirts in women's apparel are basically just tank tops with wider straps. May be white or in color, may or may not have a printed graphic or saying.

    Tank or Tank-Top - (note - probably so named as it is the kind of shirt often pictured worn by military in tanks, perhaps because of the heat of being in an enclosed space.) A shirt without sleeves, with 1-2" (or so) straps, often a scoop neck or V neck (not usually the close crew neck fit of a muscle shirt), possibly larger arm holes than a muscle shirt. Refers to any shirt with this kind of shape, whether a thin white jersey or rib knit typically used as an undershirt, or a thicker rib or jersey shirt in an array of colors meant to be worn as a stand alone shirt or in layers, or a patterned or embellished shirt of most any material, on up to a fully sequined top as part of a women's dressy outfit.

    A-Shirt - From what I can tell, a men's Tank Top (though strictly in jersey or rib knit or something appropriate to the term "athletic"). I don't know about the distinction of designed to be worn alone vs under another shirt - we're awfully fond of layering as it is so many shirts that can be worn alone may often be in layers, and sometimes shirts meant to be undergarments are worn alone.

    Wife beater - not in common use as in prior years in the US for social/politically correct reasons, but I always pictured this to be more of the specific style of white rib knit tank top that has a very narrow back, as if very wide arm opening, but other online sources indicate muscle shirts could also be referred to as this.

    Vest - I guess from the above conversation usually referred to in BE as a waistcoat? A "vest" can be any sleeveless garment typically worn over a sleeved shirt, but takes a few forms in the US: Typical vest is the middle part of a 3 piece suit or tuxedo that covers the shirt and goes under the jacket, usually made of wool or silk (but could be made in any suiting material.) A sweater vest is a knit garment designed to wear over a button down shirt for men, or a blouse for women, often with cable knitting or some other distinctive color or textural pattern. A knit tank top could potentially be used as a vest if worn over another shirt, or could be worn alone. I would tend to think of a knit tank top as a thinner item than a sweater vest. Sleeveless outerwear garments such as zip-up polyester fleece are also called vests. Lastly, strap-on Kevlar protective garments for law enforcement officials are called bullet-proof vests, which can be worn under a sweater or coat or as the outermost item, but usually still over another shirt of some kind.

    Camisole - Women's under shirt typically with spaghetti straps, usually a thinner silky material akin to a top-only slip. Occasionally a tank top of similar material &/or with lace embellishment may be also referred to as a camisole.

    Shell - A dressier women's shirt designed to be worn under another top or jacket, allowing a V or scoop of the shell to show through at the neck. A dressier alternative to a typical tank top (shells are usually a polyester or silk, often with lace or bold colors, thicker than a camisole, often created reversible in a different color.) Sometimes a solid color tank top in a dressier material may be referred to as a shell.

    Until reading this thread I had never heard of the term "singlet".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Tank top comes from the "tank suit" a men's swim suit meant for swimming in a "tank" which is a synonym for "pool". I never heard of a pool called a tank in the USA so this might be a British term.

    Here is an image from the 1918 Brussels men's swim club for water polo:

    1918_Brussels.jpg


    I never heard the term "wife beater until about 20 years ago and I never use the term.

    I have heard the term "tit top" when women wear a tank top.

    I rarely hear "A top" which is, as mentioned in an earlier post short for "athletic top".

    My mom never let me play outside without a shirt on or with only an athletic shirt on. It was not "proper".
     
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