In one useage originating (though by no means widespread) at MIT
, "pants" is a term that roughly means "competence and ability to get things done." This may refer to a particular area of expertise, or to someone's overall personality and capabilities. It's typically seen as some form of "to have pants," and more often in the negative. Implying that someone has no pants is similar to invoking "The Emperor's New Clothes
", but carries a connotation of ignorance
on the target's part rather than groupthink
or willful delusion
Examples: "The professor is really enthusiastic and well-meaning, but my god, he has no pants!" "I'd like to have more coding pants before I take 6.170." "That's a cool idea. I wonder if they have enough pants to pull it off." Or, more humorously, simply exclaiming "Pants!" while panicking about one's lack thereof (or maybe that's just me).
See also: balls, who wears the pants (related expressions, but more concerned with dominance than competence).