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.

  • 2
    ... 'ladders in her stockings'? (and 'runners in her hose' - was she a firefighter?) May 24, 2014 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. May 24, 2014 at 20:48
  • 1
    Hose is short for hosiery. May 24, 2014 at 22:24

1 Answer 1


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



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