Bib-front Shorts: Foreign Language Terms

Figure 1.--This 1973 Freemans catalog from England offered Ladybird bib-front shorts. Note that the ad uses the term "bib-topped trousers".

We have very limted information on foreign language terms for bib-front shorts and trousrs at this time. Bib-front shorts is of course an American term. We note a wide range of terms used in different countries. It has proven a very difficult term to translate, in part because there are various English language terms an connotations. This is reflected in the various submissions by our non-English speakers concerning appropriate foreign language terms. The term in foreign countries tend to get confused with overalls. An interesting factor here is fashion influences. Those countries which use the French term salopette or a similar word are countries which preumably were particularly influenced by French fashions.


HBC uses the term "bib-front or bibfront shorts to describe these garments. It is a widely used term in Amrica. But there are other terms that are used. A HBC reader writes, "While you might find the term 'bib-front shorts' in America, the more usual term is "shortalls". I know that HBC used this term to describe what are also called 'john-john suits'. The English language has always resisted any attempts to make it logical or consistent. Another term used in America 'bib-shorts', to complement 'bib-overalls' American 'overalls' are generally bib overalls, but sometimes they are coveralls." All of this is a bit confusing, especially the complications with overalls. We are not sure to what extent bib-front shorts or just bib shorts were used. One term that we have not noted is overall shorts. It is quite true that shortalls (john-john suits) is currently used to describe bib-front shorts. I am not sure just when bib-front sjhorts were first described as shortalls. We believe that this began in the 1980s when actual shortalls declined in popularity. They are often bib-front shorts done in the overall style.


We believe that the Austrians probably use the same terms as the Germans. We know of no specific Austrian terms are usaages.


French speaking Belgians probably use the French terms. We are less sure about the term in Dutch-speaking Flanders. It presumably is similar to the term in the Netherlands.


I believe that English speaking Canadians use the American term bib-front shorts. A French Canadian reports, "In Québec the term for long pants with a chest-plate (bib) is "salopette", as in France. Like smocks, it was intended to avoid dirtying clothes. In France, workers uses the term "bleu" after the color of jeans."


The British tended to say dungarees, meaning roughly the same as overalls in America. They would understand the term "bib-front shorts", but I am not sure that they use it. The 1973 ad here, for example, uses the term "bib-topped trousers" (figure 1). We notice the shorts seen here have no defined waistline, somewhat similar to shortalls. Many bib-front shorts had defined waistlines. We do not yet hve enough information on bib-front shorts in England to know how common this was.


The French before about 1970 called suspender shorts culotte à bavette, meaning short pants with a bib. The common term today is salopette. This means pants in general with a bib and is also used for long pants with a bib. The most common term today is salopette courte. The term salopette continued to be longs pants with a bib. Some elderly French still say culotte à bavette. A HBC reader writes, "I share with HBC a fascination for words. Concerning "salopette", it is interesting to note that this word of current use has its origin from kind of rude slang. 'Salope' is a very crude word meaning a filty and dirty woman. 'Saloperie' meant a dirty trick, real mess etc. These words thus explain 'salopette', bib-front trousers to protect from dirt." A French reader writes, "Yes, this is correct. We have a popular verb " saloper " meaning to bungle a job and the very rude word "salope" (only one p) means "bastard" or "bitch". A rather strange origin for a child's garment. The word "salopette" sounds today in our ears very correct with the connotation of a child's garment."


The German term for bip-front trousers, both shorts and long, is Latzhose or small ones for a baby are Latzhöschen. Bibfront shorts specifically are Kurze Latzhose. In German, "overall" refers to coveralls. The "latz" in "latzhose" means "flap", and it can also refer to the button flap fly of lederhosen. Thus a Google search of German pages for "latzhosen" will turn up some references that are actually to lederhosen. Bibfront work pants for workers are Arbeitsanzug. We notice German Hosenschürze, ewhich look somewhat like shortalls. There may be another term for bib-front shorts.


If you google "salopetta" (plural "salopetti") you get Italian pages.

(The) Netherlands

If you google "salopet" you get pages from the Netherlands, but the word I saw more commonly on Dutch pages is "tuinpak", which I believe translates literally to "gardensuit". My Dutch dictionary translates overalls as "werkbroek" or workpants. A Dutch reader writes, "We always used the English term "overall" to describe bib-fronts. In Dutch it would be "over alles" (über alles!). It was associated with dirty work, something you would wear to protect your clothes underneath rather than a specifically child's garment. A bib is a "slabbertje" in Dutch. Girls and women would wear a "schort" (apron). Little boys a buttoned "kruippakje" (crawl suit)."



If you google "salopeta", you get overalls and coveralls in Romania.


The Spanish term for bib is peto. Bibfron pants are pantalon con peto. My Spanish dictionary translates overalls as "overol", but googling that finds only coveralls.


A French speaking Swiss reader reports, "In Switzerland like in France we say 'salopette courte'." HBC has no information on German-speaking Switzerland, but assume that it is the same as in Germany. The snaller mumber of Italian speaking Swiss probably use the Italian term.


If you google "salopet" you get pages from Turkey.


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Created: December 23, 2003
Last updated: 1:31 PM 7/20/2004