Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This is from a song that Johnny Cash sang. I want to know what runners in her hose means:

Back when we could laugh and play
On family reunion day
Didn't we all look funny
In our 1950s clothes?
Your daddy wore that greasy stuff
Your brother drank more than enough
Your mom wore penny loafers
With runners in her hose

I guess hose is short for pantyhose but despite having many alternatives for runner my dictionary doesn't have any that fit into this sentence.

share|improve this question
2  
... 'ladders in her stockings'? (and 'runners in her hose' - was she a firefighter?) –  Edwin Ashworth May 24 at 19:51
3  
Pantyhose weren't introduced until the 1960s. In the 1950s, in the US, hose meant stockings, in this case nylon stockings. And a woman wearing hose could have a run, or in some places and cases a runner, which means a spreading vertical rip, held together with crosswise threads. –  John Lawler May 24 at 20:48
1  
Hose is short for hosiery. –  Wayfaring Stranger May 24 at 22:24

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Women's hosiery of that era were not yet pantyhose, but rather thigh-high hosiery held in place by garter belts. The nylon from which the hosiery was made was subject to having a defect occur, called a run, that would leave a visible line or streak down the length of the hose. Wearing such hosiery was at least mildly embarrassing and to some extent a sign of low social or financial standing since the woman was not able to afford better (or more) hosiery. The same thing can happen with pantyhose, but that was not what the Johnny Cash song had in mind.

  1. a series of unravelled stitches, esp in stockings or tights; ladder

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/run

share|improve this answer
    
An image of a run –  Superbest May 25 at 8:52
    
@Superbest - "See how they run" (verse 4, of course) –  J.R. May 25 at 23:09

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.