your small talk will be pants

boozer

Senior Member
Bulgarian
Hi, friends

Could you please help me decipher the actual meaning of the following phrase:

"If you aren't regularly having to apply your mind to new challenges, then you may literally be losing the ability to do so. Oh, and your small talk will be pants."

To be quite honest, this does not look to me as a set expression. It seems to me the author wants to say either "you would be unable to talk about anything more sensible that pants" or, less likely, "you will be panting when having a small talk".

So, what do you think? Thanks
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Pants' has acquired a new meaning: rubbish, nonsense, no good. It was popularized by the Bridget Jones character; I don't know if it's BrE only or if it's crossed the pond.
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Hi,
    The key word here is the adjective "pants".
    In AE, I've heard it being used in the sense of "useless" or "nothing",
    but I've read that in BE it means "inferior" or "less valuable".

    So the meaning of the last part is "Oh, and your small talk won't be very good".

    Can you give us more context?
    Is it BE or AE?

    Let's wait for our BE friends to give us some input.
     

    Favola

    New Member
    Polish
    Hi!

    In my opinion "be pants" means here "be very bad" (It is an informal expression). Maybe it means that you would not be able to carry on an interesting conversation?
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Well, that really is all the relevant context. After that the subject gets changed :)

    This happens to be AE, but I'm now positive entangledbank is right and the meaning here is "rubbish".

    Thank you all for teaching me a new meaning of "pants" :) I had never heard it before. Knowing all the usual meanings of "pants" I did not even think of looking it up in a dictionary. Perhaps I should have... :)

    Thanks again.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm afraid, Mr E, there's still one thing I'm not sure of. I'm not clear that pants is an adjective. We aren't speaking of pants small talk, here, are we? Isn't it, like bollocks, a noun? I started the sentence more delicately by writing like rubbish and then it struck me that people use rubbish as an adjective now, e.g. a rubbish book, to mean a bad book, a poor book.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I believe it originated in phrases like "That's a load/pile of pants!", so it started as a noun. There is no doubt, however, that like your "rubbish" example, Thomas, it is now also used as an adjective. E.g.
    "That is a pants job."
    "What a pants site!"
    And, of course I believe, the topic example.
     
    Last edited:

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    That is understandable and, on second thoughts, I withdraw my "of course", which was a little hasty. Although, there is no doubt that it is used as an adjective in other phrases.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Oh I totally agree, Mr.M, that it's now a ¾-fledged adjective in its own right.
    I've yet to hear pantser or pantsest ... but I'm moderately sure (49.1%) I have heard pantsier and pantsiest ("That was the pantsiest film I've ever seen").
     
    Last edited:

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    While it is claimed that pants has entered American English as an adjective, and one, furthermore, not involving trousers, I expect that very few Americans are aware of such a use. As evidence of this, I have been unable to find any dictionary online of American English which I know to have a printed version which has pants in such a use without also labeling it as being British English.

    I have been aware of the British uses of the word pants, as both noun and adjective, for some years, and if I were to hear it spoken in a film by an American actor, I think I would have noticed it immediately--I haven't see the film mentioned previously, however.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    While it is claimed that pants has entered American English as an adjective, and one, furthermore, not involving trousers, I expect that very few Americans are aware of such a use. As evidence of this, I have been unable to find any dictionary online of American English which I know to have a printed version which has pants in such a use without also labeling it as being British English.

    I have been aware of the British uses of the word pants, as both noun and adjective, for some years, and if I were to hear it spoken in a film by an American actor, I think I would have noticed it immediately--I haven't see the film mentioned previously, however.
    You know, it's my fault really. I was under the (erroneous) impression that I was translating an American author:D It's a small booklet written by some Steve Shipside, who appears to be a UK national. Most of the stuff in that booklet fits a clearly US context, but the author is British. The spelling is totally British, but that is not uncommon for any book released in the UK, irrespective of the author's nationality. Hence my hasty conclusion the author was American.

    Pants, the way I see it, is a noun in this sentence. But I'm not going to die arguing about it :)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    To be an unquestionable adjective it would need to appear in adjective-only frames:

    ? That's a very pants idea.
    ? That idea is very pants.
    ? That's the most pants idea I've ever heard.

    Google sees all, hears all, but I am now running late for work, so I see nothing, I hear nothing.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top