Word of the Week: Hochwasserhose

Are your pants too short? Are your socks visible when you sit down? You may be wearing a Hochwasserhose!

The word Hochwasserhose means “high-water-pants” and it refers to a pair of pants that don’t quite cover your ankles. Such pants would be great if your bathroom is flooded – or if heavy rains are flooding the streets outside! After all, you wouldn’t want to get your pants wet, would you?

Originally, a Hochwasserhose was designed to be worn during floods. In 1534, a German physicist “invented” the concept, creating stylish pants that were short and perfect for rainy weather.

Today, however, people jokingly use the word Hochwasserhose to make fun of someone’s super short pants, which do not fit them the way they are supposed to. Parents, for example, might refer to their child’s Hochwasserhose after their kid has a growth spurt, leaving their pants too short at the ankles. In the workplace, you might spot a colleague whose pants are too short, exposing their dress socks for the world to see. In this case, wearing a Hochwasserhose is not the most stylish decision!

But in some cases, a Hochwasserhose can be intentionally designed that way – either for purposes of fashion or utility. So-called “ankle jeans” – which end just before the ankle – are intentionally designed to be short and considered stylish.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

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