sansculotte was our Word of the Day on 08/27/2012. Hear the podcast!
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At the time of the French Revolution (1787-1799), knee breeches (culottes in French) were the height of fashion for aristocratic men. The men of the general populace could not afford such impractical finery and instead wore the pantaloon (long trousers). When the poorer classes rose up against the government, members of the Revolutionary army used this difference in dress to distinguish themselves from the aristocracy, calling themselves "soldats sans culottes," literally, "soldiers without culottes." Almost immediately, sansculotte became a noun in both French and English.
Origin and Etymology of sansculotte
French sans-culotte, literally, without breeches
First Known Use: 1790See Words from the same year
Learn More about sansculotte
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sansculotte
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