First published on August 28, 2006
There are seemingly many variations of this phrase, such as “don’t get your knickers in a knot” and “don’t get your underwear in a bunch”. One might wonder, who in the world came up with this? After all, how would one get one’s underwear twisted in the first place — putting them on too fast? the washing machine did it? And is one walking around all uncomfortable with a wedgie, or is one simply having a difficult time putting on his or her underwear?
So I was hoping for a great story behind this expression (such as the theories behind the expression “white elephant gifts“) but apparently it was just some silliness conjured up by The Basil Brush Show, a British television program that started in the late 60s. From there, the Australians turned the original expression “don’t get your knickers in a twist” into “don’t get your knickers in a knot” (source). Then, of course, the Americans implemented the “panties” term.
Oh, and if the origin described above is wrong, please tell me the real story in the comments to this post!