Originally, short pants covering the hips and thighs and fitting snugly at the lower edges at or just below the knee, now sometimes just used for pants in general.

Breech"es (?), n. pl. [OE. brech, brek, AS. br�xc7;k, pl. of broc breech, breeches; akin to Icel. brok breeches, ODan. brog, D. broek, G. bruch; cf. L. bracae, braccae, which is of Celtic origin. Cf. Brail.]

1.

A garment worn by men, covering the hips and thighs; smallclothes.

His jacket was red, and his breeches were blue. Coleridge.

2.

Trousers; pantaloons.

[Colloq.]

Breeches buoy, in the life-saving service, a pair of canvas breeches depending from an annular or beltlike life buoy which is usually of cork. This contrivance, inclosing the person to be rescued, is hung by short ropes from a block which runs upon the hawser stretched from the ship to the shore, and is drawn to land by hauling lines. -- Breeches pipe, a forked pipe forming two branches united at one end. -- Knee breeches, breeches coming to the knee, and buckled or fastened there; smallclothes. -- To wear the breeches, to usurp the authority of the husband; -- said of a wife. [Colloq.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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