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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.

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closed as general reference by Matt 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.

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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 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 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
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You have a good point. I was surprised I had to look there, myself. –  Matt Эллен Sep 21 '11 at 13:51

1 Answer 1

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).

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