What's the singular of pantaloons?
Well, it's not Pantaloon, certainly. Pantaloon was quite, quite different.
Everything started with him, though, all the same.
Pantaloon was a silly old man who used to try to separate the lovers in English pantomime. He was the one who got all the tricks played on him. In Italy, in commedia dell'arte, he's a dirty old man, too, a merchant, who wears, yes, pantaloons.
Picture by Maurice Sand
So what are pantaloons?
Well, that depends on how old they are, because they've grown over the years - and, as with so many of us, they've mostly grown outwards. They started off in the late 1700s as tight-fitting men's trousers, as in the picture above, especially the sort with built-in stirrups.
Then they had a life as children's wear:
Picture from 1838. They're still trousers, but they're quite a bit baggier.
Nowadays pantaloons are a jokey name for any sort of trousers, but especially very baggy ones gathered at the ankle.
Lately, in fashion circles, they're sometimes called harem pants.
In non fashion circles, pleasingly, they've taken themselves back to the pantomime, when you can sometimes see them worn as underpants by the more ladylike sort of dame.
Word To Use Today: pantaloon. This garment is named, improbably, after a saint. San Pantaleone was a 4th century saint from Venice. Pantalone became an Italian nickname for a Venetians, who were famous merchants, and hence for the merchant in commedia dell'arte.