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Lexical Leavings

by Tom Gally



I was wondering if English-Japanese dictionaries include the proverb-like phrase "he puts his pants [trousers] on one leg at a time."

Several dictionaries I checked did not include it, and one that did gave an incorrect explanation of the meaning:
 put one's pants on one leg at a time 
〔米話〕人間らしい間違いを犯す, 「ズボンの片足に両足を突っ込む」.
This definition is an amateurish misreading of the English. The correct meaning is shown by the following examples from the Web:
The important thing, to remember, is that it is one thing for individuals to quote from his works like they were the gospel but it is another to realize that Crowley, like every one else, put his pants on one leg at a time. He was still only a man.

It was surgically removed when the muscle wall around it was strengthened. This all makes him sound like some superman. In the end, though, doesn't he put his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else?

King George too, it was said, "put his pants on one leg at a time." We want our leaders to be "one of us."

He is at once average and uncommon: average in that he puts his trousers on one leg at a time like every other man, yet, uncommon in his courage, ability and determination to defend his beliefs.

It may well be time that the poor boy learned how to put his trousers on one leg at a time, like the rest of us.
There weren't many hits for "trousers," suggesting that the above dictionary is correct at least in labeling the expression American.

Later, I found another dictionary, 最新英語情報辞典 published by 小学館, with a correct definition:
put one's pants on one leg at a time
((米俗))(有名人や偉い人が)他の人と変わらない;みんなと同じである.
(June 2, 2003)