You are not the car you drive
You are not your fucking khakis!

I absolutely love Fight Club - this is a cult movie.

I know that khakis mean a special color used for army dresses; but I want to know what it means in the context of the movie. What did Tyler Durden mean by this?

What does khakis mean?

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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khaki Nov 27, 2014 at 19:02
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    @JanDvorak, yes i know what khakis mean! it is special color used for army dresses; but i want to know what it means in the context of the movie! What did Tyler Durden mean by this?
    – ERJAN
    Nov 27, 2014 at 19:04
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    It actually has the potential of generating a good answer. Adjectives can "become" nouns, for example we talk about "looking after the old". If we're feeling down and low in morale, we're having the blues.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 27, 2014 at 19:31
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    It's the final "refutation" in a stream of them... "You are not your job... You're not how much money you have in the bank... not the car you drive... not the contents of your wallet... not your fucking khakis." In which context it doesn't really matter exactly what khakis means to the speaker or the addressee. Obviously they're all supposed to be visible symbols of wealth and success, though personally I'd tend to see the wearing of khaki (trousers) as a negative trait if I had to place it somewhere on the "desirable/undesirable" scale. Nov 27, 2014 at 20:23
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    RE: @JanDvorak, yes i know what khakis mean! it is special color used for army dresses; but i want to know what it means in the context of the movie! You could have avoided that comment if you had just stated that in your question to begin with. Had you included a simple, "I understand it is a special color for army uniforms, but..." that would have helped everyone start at the same place. However, you asked instead: "What does khakis mean?" so don't be surprised if the first response you get is a link telling you the meaning of khakis.
    – J.R.
    Nov 28, 2014 at 0:48

4 Answers 4


I'm surprised no one has mentioned what khakis actually means in some non-rhotic accents. Non-rhotic accents are ones in which the r sound is only pronounced when it's followed by a vowel (e.g. right); the r is silent elsewhere. Khakis is a humorous pronunciation-spelling of car keys in some areas of the USA (such as Boston). The r is silent because it's followed by a consonant, so it's pronounced KAH-KEEZ which could alternatively be spelt khakis.

Here's an illustration from A Historical Phonology of English by Donka Minkova (p274):

khakis - car keys

I assume it also means car keys in the quote in the OP:

You are not the car you drive
You are not your fucking khakis! [car keys]

  • 1
    Is the -kis of khakis really pronounced like keys? That's incredible.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 16, 2021 at 7:48
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    @AndrewLeach: I wouldn't say the -kis is the same as keys, but that's what most sources say. In casual speech, most long vowels are reduced anyway. May 16, 2021 at 8:12
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    haha lol, years later someone answered... i think this is he meant , cuz he says first "car you drive" then car keys..
    – ERJAN
    May 16, 2021 at 10:30
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    Oh, well done! That does make sense now. Glad I didn't upvote any of the answers back in 2014.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 16, 2021 at 11:07
  • @AndrewLeach: AmE doesn't have phonemic vowel length, so the last syllable of khakis (/-kiz/) resembles keys (/kiz/) May 25, 2021 at 4:59

"Khakis" is often used to refer to pants (that are khaki-colored, or made of the khaki textile). For example, Old Navy has a khakis page that lists various pants and one specific to men's khakis.

In the context of the movie, khakis are another 'material good' that Tyler denounces, like cars, ikea furniture, etc.

  • Another example: gap.com/products/mens-khaki-pants.jsp
    – A E
    Nov 27, 2014 at 19:30
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    I agree with this answer, but would add that khaki pants have class overtones, as they are commonly seen in white-collar work environments in North America (as part of the "business casual" dress style).
    – PersonX
    Nov 27, 2014 at 21:10
  • Khakis used to (at least) refer to military dress. A khaki uniform is often referred to as khakis. (Wikipedia) Members of different militaries sometimes had different kinds of uniforms, and khakis was one type.
    – Drew
    Nov 27, 2014 at 21:44
  • very good now I see khakis is just another type of pants, another symbol of consumerism... any kind of clothes that everyone wants, desires....
    – ERJAN
    Nov 29, 2014 at 9:28
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    lol actually khakis in this context means "car keys"
    – ERJAN
    May 16, 2021 at 10:31

Maybe I have a clue. Sir Terence Conran, a founder of Habitat, an advocate of design and minimalism, supposedly said, "I am not my khakis"


The stuff you own, wear, etc. does not define you. This is not about a higher status symbol. This is just about things / stuff in general. I suppose the minimalistic rhetoric of Fight Club refers to this sentense, because it is a symbol of not beeing addicted to material posessions.

  • Can you please add links to your sources? Once added, this answer will be a good one.
    – Hank
    Feb 7, 2017 at 20:12

The character Tyler Durden is referring to a popular commercial (late 1990's) from The Gap clothing company. It showed people dancing to swing music (a retro trend at the time) to promote their khakis pants. His line is mocking the vapid materialistic commercialism of the era. Which is sadly tame compared to now in 2021.

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