Boxer shorts (also known as loose boxers or as simply boxers) are a type of undergarment typically worn by men.
The term has been used in English since 1944 for all-around-elastic shorts, so named after the shorts worn by boxers, for whom unhindered leg movement (“footwork”) is very important.
I know they’re called shorts, but they’re really underwear – something you wear under your shorts / trousers / jeans …
This confusing nomenclature seems to have confused a load of people in India.
Had a friend over few weekends ago. After a long day walking out, we all changed into comfortable home clothes, and he came out of his room wearing a tee and … boxer shorts. I queried him, and he confirmed that he was wearing ‘underwear’ under them. I explained to him (hopefully not too rudely) that they were underwear, and not really shorts.
This wasn’t the first time either.
A couple of years ago, at home in India, the whole joint family had gathered for a wedding. A cousin emerged from the shared bathroom, walking through the living room where all the relatives were gathered, in his …. boxer shorts. Again, wearing an underwear under it.
Back in my B-school hostel too, a lot of batchmates used to roam around in their boxer shorts. It may have been them just walking around in their underwear in a men-only hostel. Or maybe they too were wearing underwear under their boxer shorts.
Ideally, Jockey (who first popularised boxers in India), should’ve done a customer education campaign to inform buyers that the shorts were meant to be underwear, and not regular shorts. However, driven by profit motive, and seeing a large proportion of their customers using boxers as outwear shorts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them actively promote the boxers as … shorts :)