Pants in the Boot
The United Kingdom and America are two countries separated by the same language, George Bernard Shaw never said, and we’ll be proving that in this podcast. We gather Incomparable panelists from the UK and America, as well as Canada and other English-speaking regions, and try to explain to each other the distinctions between biscuit and cookie, lemonade and fizzy water, public school and, er, public school, and why when we put our pants in our boot, we mean something altogether different.
January 30, 2023 A cut above
45 Pants in the Pants in the Boot
Glenn takes a seat while panelists discuss literal American-style pants and trousers around the world that are designed for people who identify as women—and the many styles that fail to fit many bodies! Also: missing pockets—the agents of the patriarchy never rest.
January 18, 2023 Swedish and Dutch meatballs
44 Expletive Delighted
This episode features outbursts of descriptive words of body parts and fluids—and not just in English. We talk both about stuff people are uncomfortable saying and words that they use as freely as breathing air. With our international cast of characters on this episode, spanning three continents and two hemispheres, we mix English, Dutch, Russian, and Swedish, with a dash of Scots England.
October 10, 2022 Nonsense Words
Languages are full of, um, filler words, you know, like, what’s it? We talk in this episode about doodads, whatchamacallits, mojang, and oder, right?
September 23, 2022 Fully baked or just toasted
42 Crunchy Granola Family
We’re back with a new set of Pants in the Boots episode with our largest, most geographically and linguistically varied set of panelists—from New Zealand/Aotearoa in the southern hemisphere to 10,000 miles (16,000 km) away in Sweden, we spanned several time zones and multiple native tongues…all to talk about that most English language of things: muesli!
After a recent Gameshow episode in which a mini-muesli kerfuffle emerged, we enlisted help from a Swede named Skott and a Scot born in Germany to set the porridge boiling.
May 23, 2022 Not waffles
41 Broek in de Laars
Two of our panelists have Dutch origins and so we veer from our usual discussion of things related to English to dive briefly into salty licorice, Christmas holiday letters made of chocolate, and stroopwafel dipping.
May 9, 2022 Surprisingly Moist
40 The Candy Man Can’t
We’re sweet on sugar, but many of our panelists don’t cotton to American candy—including the American participants. We discuss our favorite chocolate bars and confections, Glenn forgets the word for licorice briefly, seaside rock crops up, and we drop into dipping Tim Tams. The Surgeon General warns that this episode might exceed your sugar allocation for the year.
This is our membership drive episode—become an Incomparable member! Sign up, support our show, and get access to exclusive podcasts! We’ve scheduled a special members-only live and then archived video session of Pants in the Boot in which we eat candies and sweets of various countries and describe our reactions. We’ll take questions and comments from members during the recording on May 14 at 10 am PDT! Become a member for all the details!
April 25, 2022 Fizzy Lifting Thinks
39 Brew Who?
Soda, pop, soda pop, soft drink, tonic, seltzer, and other fizzy drinks form the sweet backbone of our discussion as panelists talk about their childhood drinks, fountains and soda jerks, and a special beverage from Malta.
April 11, 2022 Korg Lite
38 Secret New Zealander
People who speak English with one accent trying to ape another region or country’s often sound ridiculous to the people of that other place—but convincing to those from their native land’s impression of what people in that other place sound like. Benedict Cumberbatch, just for instance. Confused? It’ll all make sense when we go to Glasgow.
March 28, 2022 A grave matter
37 Accents Acute
There’s something about the way people in different countries makes those from others swoon. But there’s often a disdain for regional accents, particularly ones that have class markers. In a language with few accent marks above letters, we talk about the dulcet tones we like from around the world.
March 14, 2022 Put your left hand in
36 All Language Is Made Up
Hokey crokey, Batman! We start by talking about nonsense words—words that are filler and mean nothing in the language or dialect in which they’re used—but then transition to more meaningful matters, like the way in which aboriginal and native languages in various countries have made inroads into English. The movie Brave is mentioned and, of course, Johnny Vegas of St Helens.
January 24, 2022 License and registration please
35 The Detector Van Is a Lie
The television license is mythical to those of us in the United States, but it’s prosaic part of having high-quality programming in the UK. We talk about the kinds of over-the-air, satellite, streaming, and cable TV available to us, our feelings on Rupert Murdoch, and did you know Glenn’s dad sold cable door to door in 1979?
January 10, 2022 Quids pro quo
34 Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money
Money is the root of all evil and the topic of this podcast. What in heaven’s name is spondulix? A pound is not a guinea. A five might be a finif, if you’re a gangster or read hard-boiled detective novels. Learn a little history and our favorite terms for money, as well as why those terms feel like they’re going extinct. Stay tuned after the episode for tooth-fairy inflation.
December 27, 2021 Just add sugar
33 Marmaladoo, Are You Jelly?
We’re in a jam about jelly. What Americans think of as jelly is rarely eaten outside North America, while other folks worried we were putting a gelatin-brand product on our peanut-butter sandwiches. It’s all about the pectin! We compute the compote and cut our way through the fruit thicket, including having our way with curd. Stay tuned to the exciting post-show discussion about tiny hotel spreads.
December 13, 2021 Nobody memorizes nine digits
32 Sing Your Favorite Postal Code
Everyone else’s postal codes seem bizarre until you start decoding them.
November 29, 2021 That’s Housenumberwang!
31 We All Live at 123 Fake Street
North American house numbering makes no sense to people with more rational systems, like that of Glasgow, which James reads out during this episode. Why do U.S. and Canadian homes have extremely long numbers and how can you use this to find cross streets?
November 15, 2021 half a duplex is better than none
30 A Detached View of Living
Panelist Chris Phin asked the innocent question, “What’s a duplex?” We went off half-cocked, then fully loaded as we discussed the difference between American duplexes and triplexes, townhouses, UK semi-detached housing, and a “two flat” in New Zealand. A common wall means you have to talk to your neighbor to get anything done—and we know how that goes.
November 1, 2021 It was ground this morning
29 This’ll Floor You
We quake with fear as we address the tricky question of floor numbering. If the ground floor is the floor that is level with the ground, what’s the first floor? What if your ground floor is a flight of stairs up? Why does James have shops in his basement? Did you park in the garage or lob yourself into the lobby? Going up. Or down. We’re not sure which.
Please make sure and consult this document, referenced after the official closing theme of this episode, which will “help” “explain” apartment and floor numbering in Glasgow.
October 18, 2021 That’s a load-bearing poster
28 Factor in the Coopetition
Now for the most exciting of all topics: real-estate ownership! Americans try to explain condos and coops, Scots tell us about mysterious “factors” and trying to talk your neighbo(u)rs into things like spending huge sums to repair holes in the floor, and our New Zealand correspondent brings up…BODY CORPS?! Own, rent, or lease, we’ve been co-opted.
October 4, 2021 Erected entirely by hypnosis
27 We Get Sharp about Flats
An off-handed remark from James that he lived in—nay, owned—a “tenement flat” led to an extended discussion about flats, apartments, and tenements, and about how we refer to the kind of sub-building dwelling we live in.
September 20, 2021 Point and Counterpoint
26 Get a Load of This Bench
We thought we’d start a run of episodes continuing our theme of things around the house with a simple topic: bench or counter/countertop. It turns out after finishing a meal, we need to sidle into the bathroom, find the pocket door. We also learn that we must stop sitting on top of things off which one normally eats food—it’s rude! And, in some parts of the world, a cultural social catastrophe extending to tapu. Nothing is ever easy when we investigate English’s migration around the world. Shall you sit on a bench or a counter? Fiddlesticks.
June 4, 2021 I roux the day
25 That Takes the Biscuit
A buttermilk biscuit is one of humanity’s greatest inventions. But it is somehow different from an English or Scottish (or New Zealand) scone, whether you pronounce it skown or skon. In this episode, we tear biscuits apart, peer inside sausages, and swim in gravy.
May 21, 2021
24 Do You Want a Piece of Me?
We wade into the contentious debate of what constitutes a sandwich in this episode, but fortunately get sidetracked into whether a chicken patty is a burger or a sandwich, and then start remembering chip butties fondly, we discuss “the bits” of fries/chips, and Chris informs us about “a fly cuppie and a fine piece.” We avoid getting into a jam about jelly (reserving it for a future episode).
May 7, 2021 pretty fly
23 A Cup or Two Will Benefit You
Welcome to tea or not! A podcast in which we…never mind. This episode, we discuss a cuppa, a fly cup, broken orange pekoe, tea bags, tea with toasted brown rice, and what is absolutely not tea. Bonus content at the end.
April 23, 2021 brown water innit
22 Are You Mocha-ing Me?
A flat white isn’t just a boring person who frequents Starbucks, but a drink invented in New Zealand. Fortunately, we have a Kiwi on this episode to talk about that and other coffee we drink out in the best of times (and, in New Zealand, right now) and we make at home. We add sugar and milk to flat white, americano, mocha (pronounced both ways), Nespresso, and cowboy coffee, among other caffeinated topics.
April 9, 2021 Hob knobbing
21 Home on the Range
Broil, broil, toil, and trouble, cooktop flame and grill bubble! On this episode, panelists talk around the hob about knobs, grill each other over flames, and do not, I repeat, do not put another shrimp on the barbie. Barbecue is meat. Unless it’s a kind of cookout.
We mention our episode on vans, caravans, and RVs, and Chris enlightens us about two UK brands: Aga, a popular kind of fancy grill, and Baby Belling, a popular model of electric cooker.
March 26, 2021 Tea’d off
20 Properly Scared of Electricity
In this first episode of the fifth series of Pants in the Boot, our panelists turn on the tap and fill their kettle—or is it a pot, pan, or jug?—with cold, clear water, before boiling it. We debate voltage. Also, Jean reveals her regifting habit.
June 11, 2020 Dining out on dining in
19 The Final Meal (of the Day)
Oof, it’s been a long day of eating, but it’s finally time for dinner, whether we consume it at 5:30 p.m. with children or midnight in Barcelona. Panelists discuss what they eat on what surface and when, and discover all of them grew up eating their evening meal together with their family. This is the last episode in this meals series. Join us again soon for a new series with new set of culture and words.
May 28, 2020 Never mind the hobnobs
18 Fancy a Bit of Tea?
Here’s one in which our British compadres have Americans (and most Canadians) beat hands down: tea! While our feckless host admits he thought high tea was an invention, English and Scottish panelist explain tea, afternoon tea, and high tea, and ask the butler to bring more scones.
May 14, 2020 A little peckish already
17 Breakfast, Dinner, Launch—No, Lunch!
We’ve finished off a mid-morning snack and elevenses, and it appears to be time for lunch. Our UK, Canadian, and American panelists talk about the sandwich as holy center of lunch, but wouldn’t something deep fried be nice, too? Or a burrito?
“The Holy Lunching Friars of Voondon claimed that just as lunch was at the center of a man’s temporal day, and man’s temporal day could be seen as an analogy for his spiritual life, so lunch should be seen as the centre of a man’s spiritual life, and be held in jolly nice restaurants.”—Douglas Adams,
April 30, 2020 Mimosa Es Su Mosa
16 The Most Important Meal
The most important meal of the day is breakfast. And we seem to agree on that. We might call it “brekkie,” though we usually do not, but it is the least contentiously named meal. Panelists discuss cereal, stacks of things, the breakfast burrito, the American diner, and stay through to brunch, a no longer uniquely American invention.
As mentioned on this episode, you can find Antony “Anthony Johnson” Johnston’s Joe Shelter series here.
April 16, 2020 Seven Meals a Day
15 Really, We Never Stop Eating
In this first episode of Pants in the Boot Series 4, we talk about how we identify different times of the day during which we eat named meals. Is it elevenses, dinner, supper, tea, or something altogether different? At least we agree on breakfast. I think.
December 16, 2019 An Accredited Podcast
14 We’ve Lost Our Faculties
Primary school, grammar school, magnet school, comprehensive, college, university, faculty, and more. Our global English-speaking brains are abuzz as we try to comprehend exactly how each part of the world describes (and charges for) the institutions that educate children and young adults.
November 19, 2019 Codswallop
13 You Can’t Say That, Except the Letter Isn’t an “a”
In an inevitable episode in this series, we talk obscenity. Those of faint constitutions should avoid getting their knickers in a twist as panelists from Scotland, Australia, and the U.S. of A. discuss varying attitudes about the f word, the c word, the t word, and a lot of other words we can’t readily list in this description. We dive deep into what constitutes offensive words, too.
November 5, 2019 Look behind you!
12 A Pantomime Is a Terrible Thing To Waste
Usually, we’re explaining English to each other. This time, US panelists are desperate to understand the largely UK art of panto, a kind of stylized broad style of show, popular around Christmas, full of stereotypes and archetypes, risqué and beloved by children and adults.
October 22, 2019 Don’t be half a horse’s ass
11 Oh, Aren’t We Fancy?
If you wear fancy dress in the US or the UK, you might show up in tails. However, in the former, that would be a tuxedo and the latter, potentially the back half of a horse costume. Our panelists for this and the next stretch of episodes dig into what to wear and what not to wear, including the lack of a modern code for mourning dress.
September 2, 2019 It aunt necessary so
10 M Is for the Many Names We Gave Her
American panelists finally hear the difference between ma’am and mum when referring to, for instance, the bloody Queen of England! Yes, we talk mom, mom, and mum; aunt and aunt; and the names we call our grandparents in various regions.
August 19, 2019 What’s up, BRU?
8 Fizzy with a Spritz on Top
The North Americans challenge their UK panelists to please, please, please explain what lemonade means, since it’s not “lemons, sugar, and water.” The answer will surprise you. But then we discover ginger as a generic. It’s all sweet fizzy water with fake lemon (or Lymon) in the end.
August 5, 2019 Brace yourself
9 Don’t Keep Us in Suspense
We’re all lumberjacks and we’re okay, we chop down words, and we read dictionar—ies! Panelists get to the bottom of suspenders and braces, and James explains how he used to visualize Wall Street financial wizards. All we can say is, honi soit qui mal y pants.
July 22, 2019 Keep on truckin’
7 We Have No Truck with That
We thought the difference between a truck and a lorry wouldn’t be a bumpy road. But when we get into it, we find a trash fire, Dumpster trademarks, and a confusion over caravans, and ultimately articulate the differences.
July 8, 2019 Fanny Anny Foh Fanny
6 It Bums Us Out
Panelists try to avoid getting their knickers in a twist while discussing the disparate—sometimes obscene—meanings of words that address the back of our front: fanny, butt, bum, ass, and arse.
June 24, 2019 The B in Our Bonnet
5 Boot v Trunk
What about a boot? We put our pants in the trunk, but we put our trousers in the boot? Panelists find themselves questioning whether they know the front of the car from the back. Hood a trunk it!
June 10, 2019 Drop the trou: it’s pants
4 Pants v Trousers
Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts—if we’re Americans at least. It’s in the title of the show, but the confusion between pants and trousers makes for many an embarrassed trans-Atlantic story. We also delve into briefs, boxers, short, short pants, and more.
May 27, 2019 Elements Are We, Watson
An extra syllable? A missing syllable? Are you out of your ever-loving minium? While it’s hardly a debate, panelists say it’s elementary as they discuss the difference between aluminum and aluminium. And the fetishism many Americans have for Jony Ive saying the UK version of that word.
May 21, 2019 Put a Steak in It
2 Chips, Crisps, and Fries
When is a chip a chip and when is it a chip? In this episode, we stare down the pare down of cutting, shredding, crushing, and extruding potatoes into the many forms in which they are consumed. One conclusion? While the British love their chips, Americans seem to like fried potatoes in a much larger variety of formats.
May 6, 2019 Bickering over biccies
1 Biscuits v Cookies
Panelists bicker over biccies in our inaugural episode. Both America and the UK have biscuits and cookies, but they aren’t the same thing. Except sometimes they are. Sometimes it’s even settled legally and taxed accordingly!
Thanks to the literally incomparable Chris Breen for the show’s theme music.