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.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What does the phrase belt and braces mean and where did it come from?

I have a rough idea but would like to see if anyone has a proper definition for this phrase.

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by Matt E. Эллен, F'x, Thursagen, Jasper, Marthaª Sep 21 '11 at 14:28

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
Hi ghostJago. I did a Google search for phrase origin "belt and braces" and got a page at the phrase finder. What about this have you found lacking? As the FAQ explains - questions that can be answered by a single link to a good resource should not be asked. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 21 '11 at 9:04
    
I re-read the faq and couldn't find "questions that can be answered by a single link to a good resource should not be asked" (or similar) but I will keep this in mind for future questions. – ghostJago Sep 21 '11 at 13:14
    
It's in the link I gave, under general reference: general reference This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 21 '11 at 13:21
    
I would expect to find that definition in the What kind of questions can I ask here? section, not in the Why are some questions closed? section, as this question is not closed. – ghostJago Sep 21 '11 at 13:48
1  
You have a good point. I was surprised I had to look there, myself. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 21 '11 at 13:51
up vote 10 down vote accepted

It means to take redundant precautions as a failsafe measure. It comes from the idea of holding your trousers (AmE:pants) up with both a belt and braces (AmE:suspenders).

share|improve this answer

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