I’ve noticed that people are getting confused when I talk about hose and hosiery. Unfortunately I have been negligent with the use of these words, carelessly substituting the one for the other when they actually don’t have the same meaning.

  • Hosiery” refers to everything that can be bought in the hosiery section of a department store (excluding socks). The term covers all variations and styles of stockings, pantyhose, nylons and tights.
  • Hose” is a shortened version of the word pantyhose, which is a type of hosiery. A pair of hose is not a pair of tights. Hose is usually sheer and transparent whereas tights are generally thick and less see-through.

To make matters worse, I sometimes incorrectly use the word “stockings” as a substitute for the word hosiery. This is a habit I learned at school, where we referred to the hose and tights that we wore with our uniform as “stockings”. Stockings actually refer to the thigh-high hose that are held in place with garter belts. I can assure you that I did not wear those to school.

From now on I shall use the words hosiery, hose and stockings correctly. Of all people I should know better and apologize for the mix-up. Interestingly, I thought that “laddering” was a universal term (for example, see my recent post on hosiery sizes). Apparently, in the US, people say something along the lines of “I have a run in my nylons” when they’ve laddered their hose. I guess we can’t help but lose some things in translation.