knickers » nipples

Chiefly in:   get one's nipples in a twist

Classification: English – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • “You won’t get your nipples in a twist over our choice this month — there’s no debate how great this one is!” (link)
  • “Just don’t expect me to get my nipples in a twist over your caterwauling about some architecture.” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Michael Palmer (Usenet group soc.motss, 10 April 2006.)

Palmer pointed out a poster’s use of “Go on, get your nipples in a twist” earlier that day, adding that “Google(tm) provides 389 hits, as against 193,000 for the standard knickers (also, 1,430 for nickers, 79 for snickers, 154 for knockers, and 19 for niggers).” The (primarily) British idiom is undoubtedly opaque to American speakers unfamiliar with “knickers” ‘underpants’, and “nipples”, which is phonetically very close to “knickers”, makes some (painful) sense.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2006/05/15 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Derek Wyckoff , 2006/08/09 at 10:20 pm

    And, of course, “twisted nipples” is not an uncommon phrase either. (I once had some poems published in a now-defunct litmag with this name….)

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