smarty pants (usage)


Moderesa de Beagá
Português/ Brasil
Hi there,

I know the colloquial usage of smart pants referring to men.
How would I say this expression when referring to a woman?
Is there any difference?
  • GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Hi Vanda,

    Wow! I'll admit I have not heard this exact expression in AE, but I have heard the term "smarty pants," and it is usually (though not always) used among children.

    In AE, "smarty pants" can be used by and towards both men and women with no distinction. It is a name you call someone when they are acting or speaking in a sarcastic manner.

    However, as I am not certain whether the "smart pants" you describe is the same as the AE "smarty pants," could you please give us a bit more context here?

    I am also not certain if the usage among our BE-speaking friends is the same as that among AE speakers. Their "pants" are much different than ours! :eek:

    Edit: I did a bit of googling. I did find a few references to smart pants that were about fashion and the use of certain materials in the making of pants (er, trousers to our BE bretheren) that help the pants maintain their shape after wearing. Is this what you are referring to?


    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    You're right , the correct spelling must be "smarty". The problem

    is that I always listen to it from the sitcoms on cable TV, so I couldn't

    notice the "y" in the end of the word. And also, in those sitcoms I

    see the actors using it to grown-ups , I know it's ironically, that's just

    what I need.:)

    Thank you!


    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I'm not sure a "smarty pants" is someone who speaks sarcastically-- you may be mixing in "smart aleck" here.

    A smarty-pants is someone like me who thinks they know a whole lot about nearly everything. The proper time to call me by that name is when you've caught me, on the rare occasion, being wrong about something.

    "Well, smarty-pants, since you know so much, maybe you could tell us why blowing out the fuel filter didn't fix the problem." (implying that I had said it would, and probably sounded pretty sure of myself)

    Then I get defensive and say hey, I never said I was perfect. But people aren't 100% sure I really mean that. Plus, I'm getting a little smart-alecky too. Why don't we just check the next thing that might be wrong, like fouled sparkplugs, and quit worrying about who's right and who's wrong? Winning that argument ain't gonna get the car fixed.


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Originally Posted by foxfirebrand A smarty-pants is someone like me who thinks they know a whole lot about nearly everything.
    FFB trumped me on this one, as he eloquently does on many things.

    You are right, I was confusing "smarty pants" with "smart aleck" (or as one might hear in a more gutteral sense, "smart ass.")

    In any case, Vanda, there is still no gender distinction.

    I did more googling. Here is an excellent bit on the origins of "smarty pants."


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Smarty pants in BE too, not smarty-boots as the link says - I've never heard it any rate. Smarty-pants, clever-clogs, and bossy-boots.


    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    Wow! I'm collecting a big amount of curious usage of the English language,
    which, by the way, is a passion for me.
    Whenever possible I like to insert some cultural notes to students. The
    more you know a culture the easier it becomes to learn its language, and of course, spicy!


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I think a smart-ass is a bit more objectionable than a smarty pants - and I don't mean just in the words used.
    It is possible to use smarty pants with some element of affection and without being entirely insulting. You wouldn't want either of those characteristics to be associated with your use of smart-ass.

    Or would you?


    Senior Member
    I heard " smarty pants" from a native AE speaker today. What does that mean? Is it a popular idiom? Or ,in other words , did she make it up?:)

    Please share your idea


    Senior Member
    It's very common. It's like saying "smart alec" but in a cutesy way so it isn't insulting.


    Senior Member
    English English
    Moderator note: Hello Phi ~ I've merged your question with a previous thread on the same subject. Don't forget to look to see if there's already a thread on a word or phrase before asking:)


    Senior Member
    Thank you. I have read them. However I am still confused. I only indrestood that it is common in both BrE and AE. Could anyone makes the meaning clear. Posts said " Mr.Know it all". Then, is it ironic? Please make it more clear and if possible with examples


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It does mean "Mr Know it all" and it is ironic, usually. We are more likely to say it when someone has said something that we think was just meant to show off how smart they are. However, between friends, for instance, it could be a joking way of complimenting someone on something they have said or done that showed intelligence.
    It's sweetly ironic how the expression tells in a non-insulting way that either I have been proven wrong about something or shown to been very intelligent about something. I love the paradoxical use of expressions like that,and words too. :]
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