German Boys' Clothing Glossary (A-L)

Figure 1.--This is a page from a German illustrated text book for leaning French. It was published in Leipzig during 1937. The dictionary showing children's clothing give some idea of what is seen as typical clothes, preumably for German boys at the time rather than French. It calls the younger boy's jacket “modele veste d'alpiniste” - “Alpine style jacket” and the older boy's cap is called "La casquette d'ecolier" ( Schoolboy cap).

We will archive foreign language terms here. We will use English language definitions, although we may try to add foreign language definitions in the future. At the least the alphabetical listing of foreign terms will help our non-English speakers navigate HBC and find the topics of interest. We also plan to use this page to follow foreign-language fashion terms which provide insights into fashion developments. Again this project will require some time to persue so it will be a while before we will be able to compile a substantial list. Many German clothing terms are destinct, but there are also some similarities with English. Here are the German words associated with closing and fashion that we have noted. Hopefully our German readers will help us build and improve the list.

Anzug (der Anzug/die Anzüge): The German word for suit is Anzug. The plural die Anzüge. This is the term for the standard boys' or men's suits. There are of course many types specialized suits like sailor suits. These specialized suits are also called anzug with an added adjetive.

Armband: Armband (-bänder)

Ärmelaufschlag (der Ärmelaufschlag/die Ärmelaufschläge): Also die Manschette/die Manschetten. Sleeve cuff

Basecap (kein deutsches Wort): Baseball cap

Badeanzug (der Badeanzug/die Badeanzüge): Bathing suit mostly for girls and women.

Badehose (die Badehose/die Badehosen): Bathing trunks for men and boys.

Baumwolle (no plural!): : Cotton. Coarse cotton cloth is "Nessel".

Bluse die Bluse/die Blusen: Blouse. The link here goes to blouse in the sence of a child's shirt. As in other countries, however, blouse was used in several other senses, especially a shirt for women and girls. .

Bluejeans (die Bluejeans singular and plural): : Blue jeans

Brille (die Brille/die Brillen): Eyeglasses

Dirndlkleid (das Dirndlkleid/die Dirndlkleider): Dirndl or girls' folk dress. Boys' folk dress is Lederhose/Lederhosen.

Einsatz (der Einsatz/die Einsätze): Decorative or embroidered detailing on clothes.

Fauntleroy Anzug: A German reader tells us that this term is not known in Germany. German readers are not sure quite how to translate "Fauntleroy suit, suggesting the style was not very popular in Germany. One reader suggests "Fauntleroy Anzug". Francis Hodgson Burnett, an English-born American, helped popularize a style of dress for boys that proved exceedingly popular among romantically inclined, doting mothers. The author modeled her famous fictional creation, Cedric Erol, after her own son, Vivian, and thereby condemned a generation of "manly little chaps" in America and Britain to elaborate, picturesque outfits. The actual description of Cedie's suits were rather brief in her book, Little Lord Fauntleroy. Perhaps even more influential than her text in popularizing the style were the lavishly detailed drawings by Reginald Birch, the artist who illustrated Mrs. Burnett's story. Whether it was the book or the illustrations, combined they were responsible for an enduring vogue of boy's clothes in the romantic style of the Cavalier/Restoration or Van Dyck Period worn by the young American hero of the story.

Fliege (die Fliege/die Fliegen): Bow tie

Flanell (der Flanell no plural): Flannel

Fuhrmannkittel (der Fuhrmannskittel/die Fuhrmannskittel): „Fuhrmann“ is the man who guides an old wooden carriage. The "Fuhrmannkittel" was a smock frock. It was worn by children, but was also worn by workers. One HBC reader who wore one as a child, reports that lumberjacks from the Black Forrest rafting logs down the Rhine to Rotterdam wore them. We do not yet have a separate Fuhrmannkittel page, but there is a page about a German boy wearing one, Stefan.

Futter (das Futter/die Futter): Lining

geflochten (an adjetive): A pigtail is "der Zopf"/“die Zöpfe" in German. The term "braided" meaning "geflochten". You don't need to add "geflochten" because a "Zopf" includes the braiding already. If it is not braided it is "der Pferdeschwanz"/“die Pferdeschwänze" (literally translated "horsetail" but in English its a ponytail).

Gürtel (der Gürtel/die Gürtel): Belt. Another German word is is der Riemen/die Riemen

Halstuch (das Halstuch/die Halstücher): Scarf

Handschuh (der Handschuh/die Handschuhe): Glove

Hemd (das Hemd/die Hemden): HBC has noted a variety of shirt-like garments.The term "shirt" is a realtively recent term. It only became widely used in the 20th century. In the 19th century, the term "waist" was commonly used to describe what we now call shirts. The term blouse was also used. While it had several meanings, the shirt-like garment was more for children and women than adults. Note similarity with English sewing term, "hem" which shows theGermanic origins of many English words. „Hemd“ is an old German term. Language i a dynamic process. Tiday the English word „shirt“ is being used in Germany in popular cilture--a DENGLISH word. „Die Bluse“/die Blusen is the woman's form for „Hemd“ (although there are also male forms, e.g., „die Windbluse/die Windblusen“).

Hemdhosen (die Hemdhose/die Hemdhosen): This was the German equivalent of a "unionsuit". It was made in a version for summer with short legs and short sleeves and in a winter version with long sleeves and long legs. A German reader in his personal experiences section describes the summer version--a Summer combination [the word "combination" is British and the equivalent of American "unionsuit"] which was open behind and buttoned in front at the neck down to the legs". Our German reader refers readers to the Sears advertisement (1939-40) for boys' garter waists because the two boys in the advertisement are wearing the American version of German "hemdhosen" under their hose supporters. For the winter version of a "hemdhose" (with long sleeves and long legs"), see the German mannequin of the boy wearing a Leibchen over his hemdhose" (German Hosiery Museum; HBC page on the Leibchen). The term "Hemdhose" means literally "shirt-pants" (i.e. an undergarment that combines an undershirt and underpants in one). The Nazareth waist suit (also on HBC) is another American version of the German Hemdhose, but the German equivalent did not have the reinforcing straps or pin tubes for hose supporters because a separate Leibchen for supporting stockings would have been worn in addition.

Hose (die Hose/die Hosen): Pants or trousers. Specialised type of pants and trousers use Hose with an adjetive or attribute added (e.g. kurze Hose, lange Hose, Anzughose, Unterhose, Strumpfhose). Boys have wear pants/trousers of different length and style. [Note: the authors have generally chosen the American word pants. In British English the proper word would be trousers, pants in Britain refer to underwear.] Long trousers were common in the first decade of the 19th Century. Boys wore long pants with their skeleton suits. At mid-century knee-length pants had appeared for boys, but it was not uncommon to see even younger boys wearing long pants, but had generally been replaced by knee-length pants and long stockings by the 1860s boys under 12 years of age, but some older boys were also wearing them. The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine reported in 1863 that the knickerbocker suit "reigns supreme". It contibued to do well into the first half of the 20th Cenuary. The development appears to be a little later in America, but eventually American boys were also in knee-lenght pants. The knee pants were full, closed at the knee with buckles or buttons, or simply cut off at the knee. The age of boys wearing knee pants gradually increased in the late 19th Century. By the turn of the Century even older teenagers, boys of 18 and 19 years of age were commonly wearing knee pants. The pants worn by boys in the 20th Century have varied widely by decade and country. American boys commonly wore knickers in the 1920s and 30s, but in the 1940s increasingly wore long pants. English and European boys commonly wore short pants, but long pants became more common beginning in the 1960s. Since the 1970s American and European boys have begun wearing very similar styles of clothes, both for dress suits as well as play and casual wear. Note that the German Hosen is similar to the English word hose or hosiery, linguistically preserving the relationship between hosiery and pants.

Hosenaufschlag (der Hosenaufschlag/die Hosenaufschläge): Pants cuff

Hosenschlitz or Hosenmatz (der Hosenmatz/die Hosenmätze): Coloquial expressioin for a toddler. Hosenmatz is only used for a toddler

Hosenschlitz (der Hosenschlitz/die Hosenschlitze): Fly pants or the zipper on trousers. In underwear „der Eingriff/die Eingriffe“.

Hosenträger (der Hosenträger/die Hosenträger): Suspenders (American) or braces (English).

Hut (der Hut/die Hüte): Boys and men wore hats and caps much more commonly in the past. No well dressed boy's outfit in the 19th and first half of the 20th century would fail to include a hat or cap. Today headgear is less commonly worn. The difference being a cap is a close-fitting head covering resembling a hat, but differing principally because of the absence of a brim or by having a brim that only partially circumvents the crown.

Jacke (die Jacke/die Jacken): Jacke is used much as in English for both a casual jacket and a suit jacket. Another German term for jacket is der Sakko/die Sakkos. It is a more formal jacket for a suit. I think it is originally French..

Jackett (das Jackett/die Jacketts): Jacket of a gentlemen´s suit, but not a lady's jacket. t

Jeans (singular and plural the same): Jeans

Kilt (der Kilt): There is no German word for kilt, the Germans just use the English word. We have not noted German boys wearing kilts. The kilt is a knee-length garment skirtlike garment tarditionally worn by men. The kilt as we know it today has ancient origins. It is generally associated today with Scotland or the Gaelic peoples of the British Isles and Normandy, however it has been worn in other countries as well. The kilt became so associated with Scottish nationalism that the English prohibited it for a time. The kilts use as a style of boys' clothing is much more recent in origin. The Higland kilt is simply a skirt, but younger boys might wear bodice kilts. A much more limited kilt-like garment was the kilt suit. This was kilt worn by small boys with matching jacket and skirt which as popular in America during the late 19th century. Today the kilt is primarily worn at ethnic celebrations and at Gaelic dancing competitions, but it is also worn for Scouting and formal events such as weddings.

Kinderschürze (die Kinderschürze/die Kinderschürzen): Some words do not translate easily. In English there are sepate words for pinafores and aprons. The dufference is somewhat blurred in German. For a pinafore, Germans might say "Kinderschürze" meaning a child's apron. One German reader tells us that it was a girl's garment, raely worn by boys. We have seen, however, some photographs of German boys wearing pinafores, although not the frilly kind often worn by girls. Germans often shorten the word to die Schürze/die Schürzen.

Kittel (der Kittel/die Kittel): Smocks are a loose, lightweight over garment worn to protect the clothing while working. Initially the smock was a garment for adult workers, especially farm workers. Eventually mothers faced with the need of protecting expensive garments from the hard wear associated with children began dressing their children in smocks. The smock by the late 19th century had become primarily a child's garment, although it was also wrn by shop workers, artists, and other adults. The smock was essentially a large shirt or overgarment with the fullness controlled by the smocking (embroidery on pleats). The use of smocking (the decorative embroidery can be easily traced to the 15th century). Albrecht Durer's Self Portrait (German) shows a smocked shirt, and the Mona Lisa (Italian) has a smocked chemise. The use of needlework to control fullness is a very old technique and became known as smocking. Smocking needle work continues today and is a popular addition to fancy collars as well as garments for younger children.

Kleid (das Kleid/die Kleider): Europeans for centuries dressed little children, both boys and girls in the same styles of dresses, often referred to as petticoats. For most of this time, no special clothing existed for childrn, boys or girls. Boys when they were "breeched", were simplly dressed in smaller versions of the knee breeches and other clothes worn by their fathers. Special clothes for children appeared in the late 18th centuty with distinctive styles for boys and girls. Even so, many mothers continued to dress small boys in dresses for more than a century. This fashion also became common in America and persisted well into the 20th century.

Kleidung (die Kleidung only singular): Clothing/attire. Formal attire is "gesellschaftskleidung".

Kniestrumpf (der Kniestrumpf/die Kniestrümpfe: Knee socks

Knopf (der Knopf/die Knöpfe): Button

Kopfbedeckung (die Kopfbedeckung/die Kopfbedeckungen): Headgear or headwear

Kord (der Kord only singular): The manufacture of corduroy was so concentrated in South Lancashire during the 19th century that corduroy became known in Germany as "Manchesterstoff" (Manchester fabric), later abreviated simply as "Manchester". Gradually "kordsamt" (corded velvet) and finally "kord," the modern term.Corduroy is often reported to be a French fabric, litterly "fabric of the king". This appears to be an eronious report. Corduroy instead appears to be a late-18th century English invention. Cotton corduroy was widely used by workers in the 19th century and became a popular childrens fabric by the early 20th century because of its warmth and durability. American boys commonly wore cord knickers and British and French boys cord shorts. The German Wandervogel often wore cord shorts. Corduroy was eclipsed by denim after World War II, but is still commonly used for children's clothing.

Kordsamt (der Kordsamt simgular only): : Kordsamt means corduroy and has replaced the word "Manchester" which was commonly used until after World War II. The commonly used shorter form ( Kord ) is used much as cord is used for corduroy in English.

Kragen (der Kragen/die Krägen): Collar

Krawatte (die Krawatte/die Krawatten): The German word for necktie is Krawatte. Der Schlips/die Schlipse is also used. The neck tie is the most vissible and variable fashion accessory worn by men. "Ties are very related to their times, reflective of trends in society," reports Mark-Evan Blackman, Chairman of the menswear department of New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. Neckties as we now know them are a relatively recent fashion accesory. The primary modern male neckwear can be be traced to the 17th-century cravat, a style developed from Croatian mercenaries honored by Louis XIV. As with so much of male fashion, the style is military in origin. Ties have only been worn by boys since the 1900s, although they only became widely accepted in the 1920s. They were extensively worn in the 1920s-40s as boys routeinly wore suits or blazers to school and to a variety of events and activities that now would call for casual clothes. In our more casual modern era, many American boys rarely wear ties and may not, in fact, learn to tie a knot until their teens. Usually British boys learn to handle a tie at an earlier age.

kurze Hose (die kurze Hose/die kurzen Hosen): Short pants are cut at or above the knee. Trousers cut below the knee we have generally referred to as knee pants if closed with buttons or left open. Trousers cut below the knee and gathered or closed with buckles we have referred to as knickers. Short pants have been referred to by different names in England. The English generally refer to short pants as "short trousers". They also used to refer to them as "knickers" although that term has for many years not been commonly used and more frequently is used to mean ladies underwear. We have also heard "patalones meches" used for short pants in Ecuador. I don't know how common that is.

Lange Strümpfe (der lange Strumpf/die langen Strümpfe): Lange Strümpfe are long over the knee stockings, not kneesocks. They are held by either "das Strumpfband/die Strumpfbänder", an elastic band around the upper end of the lange Strumpf (sing. Dativ). Or by "der Strumpfhalter/den Strumpfhaltern" (suspenders) fixed to the langen Strumpf (sing. Accusativ) by means of either "die Lasche mit dem Bügel / die Laschen mit den Bügeln..." (clasp, I don´t know the German term) or a "der Wäscheknopf/die Wäscheknöpfe" (white button) which is sewn to the stocking.

Leder (das Leder/die Leder): Leather

Lederhosen (die Lederhose/die Lederhosen): Lederhosen or modern leather short pants appeared first in the German state of Bavaria. I'm not sure when they were first worn. I assume they have originated with knee breeches and gradually become shorter. Thus you would assume they probably originated un the 18th Century. There are two types of lederhosen, short pants and knicker-like pants. Lederhosen were also worn in rural parts of Austria and Switzerland. They are often associated with the local popular folk music. Boy scouts and other youth groups in those countries, like the Hitler Youth, also sometimes wore them too. Boys in the 1920s-40s wore them much as modern boys wear jeans.

Lederjacke (die Lederjacke/die Lederjacken): Leather jacket

Leibchen (das Leibchen/die Leibchen): One garment discussed in the German clothing section was a "Leibchen"--a vest-like garment worn under a boy's shirt to which hose supporters were sewn or otherwise attached. (I don't believe the German boys had safety pins at the tops of their garters as the American boys usually did.) The Leibchen ordinarily buttoned up the back and was apparently made of some sturdy material (jean cloth?) that would take the strain of the attached hose supporters. This may be the garment which the two cyclists in your pages on German Long Stockings are wearing although one of your German contributors in "Long Stockings: Length" mentions that older boys "had shorter garters fixed at a waist belt similar to that worn by their mothers, but of course without all the adornment of women's garter belts." Note that the stockings are very long in these pictures and that the supporters fasten very high on the leg under very short shorts. Some of these Leibchen appear to have only two garters in front--one for each stocking--while others seem to have four garters--two for each stocking. This latter is apparently the case with the cyclist pictured in "Long Stockings: German Trends--figure 4.¯ You mention that it would be very helpful to obtain pictures of these Leibchens or more grown-up garter belts from some German catalogue of children's clothes from the 1940s or 50s. Perhaps one of your German readers can supply such images. We have few actual images showing a leibchen, but they are depicted in German films with accurate costuming. One example is the World War II drama Aimée & Jaguar (1998).

Leinen (das Leinen): Linen


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Created: March 20, 2003
Last updated: 6:53 PM 8/23/2004