pantywaste vs pantywaist

15 04 2010

One of my top pet peeves is the misuse of homophones.  Here’s your public service announcement for the day!

If you call someone a pantywaste, you are basically saying they’re composed of crotch rot.

PantyWAIST is the elastic band around a woman’s underclothes.

Now, which is more offensive?  “You are a diseased and stinky discharge from a vagina” or “you are a rather innovative invention that kept women from having to use a drawstring to hold up their drawers.”

I saw this AGAIN in a published book today and it pisses me off to no end!  It’s even in a book of euphemistic insults where I had hoped people who aren’t afraid of saying cunt-rag knew the difference between waste and waist.

Then again, they probably don’t know what turtle-heading means either.

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4 responses

16 11 2012
Richard Eatsa

It’s supposed to be “waist,” not “waste.” You would be incorrect if you are saying that the term should be using “waste” instead of “waist.” While waste might be more offensive, waist was the origin for the insult which goes back a long ways.

It refers to an article of clothing for children. This pantywaist was an undergarment consisting of short pants and a shirt that buttoned together at the waist. By metonymy, this children’s garment was applied disparagingly to an older male who would never normally wear one.

2 11 2017
Tiffany

But then, unless you’re writing a period piece either one could be correct these days. You can still use it as a relatively benign synonym for manchild, but it also works when you need something stronger than manchild so you change “waist” to “waste.”

Growing up in a post pantywaist society (even with all of the vintage movies and cartoons I watched growing up I never saw an article of clothing like you described) I always just figured it was a way of saying that the person on the receiving end of the insult had all of the value of a used sanitary napkin.

31 07 2016
Beverly Buchanan

I’ve just come across panty waste in a published book; a time-travel, Regency romance. Do authors, beta readers and editors think that it is okay to just leave mis-used words (and typos and grammatical errors) since most people seem to grasp the basic concepts of the English language?

19 01 2017
Coleen Shin

as fluid is language is, and since your romance novel involves time travel, it may have been a deliberate gaffe. Context might be a clue. if there is a heightened rage-y modern component, ‘waste’ may have been precisely what the author wanted. Whereas, if it was ‘back in the day’ and in reference to a person who is a sissy, effeminate or spineless, there you would more properly use “waist”. Recommendation? Don’t get your knickers in a twist over it or if too late and the twist is upon you, swear off that author.

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