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.

  • 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. 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. 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. Sep 21 '11 at 13:51

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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