Knickers vs nickers

Photo of author


Knickers and nickers are two words that are pronounced in the same manner, but have different meanings and are spelled differently. They are homophones. We will examine the difference between the definitions of knickers and nickers, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Knickers means undergarments. It may mean panties, or it may mean a bloomer type of garment, usually female. Knickers is primarily a British term. Originally, knickers referred to a type of pant worn by men that was buckled at the waist and the knee. The word knicker is shortened from the term knickerbocker, taken from the pseudonym of Washington Irving, used for his work History of New York. Published in 1809, this work featured illustrations of Dutchmen wearing the previously discussed short pants.

Nickers is the second person singular form of the verb to nicker, which means to emit a low, whinnying sound, usually describing a noise that a horse makes. Nicker may be used as a noun or as an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. Related words are nicker, nickered, nickering. The word nicker first appeared in the latter half of the 1700s and is considered an imitative word, which is a word coined by imitating a sound.


A disgraced dad was caught stealing a bag full of knickers from Debenhams – by his own daughter. (The Mirror)

Thankfully, Ben saw sense and put the host down, but Kate admitted that it meant she “flashed her huge knickers twice”. (The Express)

Mother horses call their young with a soft, low pitch nickers and herd leaders call back their straying herd mates with a loud, high pitched whinny. (The Green Sheet)

Feeding can be one of the most satisfying of barn chores: From the gentle, anticipatory nickers of the horses as you open the feed room door to their eager attentiveness as you pour grain into tubs, to the sense of nurturing that swells within you as you listen to the sounds of a barnful of horses contentedly chewing. (EQUUS Magazine)

Enjoyed reading about these homophones? Check out some others we covered: