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I came across the phrase “get one’s pants off” impossibly in association with Confucius analects in the following sentence which I found in a website, but forgot to jot down the source:

What kind of leadership will help to restore the credibility of our financial institutions? Perhaps we should try to listen to Confucius. No, he didn’t say, “If you keep your feet on the ground, you can’t get your pants off ”. But many of the things he did say are about what it takes to be a leader who wins respect while getting things done.

Although I found definitions of “take (your) pants off” in urban dictionary and “getting her pants off” in www. theatraction forum, I wasn’t able to find the definition of “get one’s pants off” in any major dictionaries. However, Google NGram Viewer shows growing incidences of this phrase since its emergence in 1925 and temporary drop-down of usage during 1955 through 1965.

It’s possible to interpret “If you keep your feet on the ground, you can’t get your pants off” in the context of leadership in restoring credibility of financial institutions in either way: (1) If you keep your feet firmly on the ground, you’ll never be perplexed, or (2) If you stick to the status quo, you’ll never make any change (or take an action). I don’t know which way I should take it. Perhaps there would be other ways of interpretation.

Though I don’t think I can use this phrase in front of ladies, is this a popular phrase, or a simple slang which is rarely used?

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I think it's just a metaphor and neither an idiom nor slang. Taking your pants off requires that you lift your feet from the ground, one at a time. I don't know what the writer means by "If you keep your feet on the ground", however, unless it means not making any changes in policy or behavior. –  user21497 Oct 22 '12 at 23:26
    
Not to be confused with the expression, "keep your pants on!" which means "don't be so impatient!" –  Kristina Lopez Oct 23 '12 at 5:05
    
If you want a related idiom, I'm gonna blow your socks off! –  SF. Oct 23 '12 at 6:39
    
"get your pants off" doesn't elicit any kind of connection with a proverb. It could refer to either literally the ability to do that particular act (a pants leg can't be removed with a foot in that position) or it could be a subtle hint towards disrobing, which might be a little risque. As the context does not follow up on the risque element, it's unclear what is intended. But the disrobing element is still there so probably best to avoid unless one wants a very mild sense that is eye-brow raising. –  Mitch Mar 15 '13 at 17:51
    
It should be noted that in British English pants refer to underwear not the outer garments. –  donothingsuccessfully Mar 15 '13 at 18:36
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1 Answer

Bill Franke has it right. The sentence simply means that if you keep your feet on the ground, then it is impossible for you to remove your pants.

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More precisely: that's what the full sentence means. The specific phrase in question just means "remove one's pants". –  ruakh Oct 23 '12 at 0:02
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