1660s, "kind of tights" (originally a French fashion and execrated as such by late 17c. English writers), associated with Pantaloun (1580s), silly old man character in Italian comedy who wore tight trousers over his skinny legs, from Italian Pantalone, originally San Pantaleone, Christian martyr, a popular saint in Venice (Pantaleone in the comedies represents the Venetian). The name is of Greek origin and means "all-compassionate" (or, according to Klein, "entirely lion"). Applied to tight long trousers (replacing knee-breeches) by 1798; pants is a shortened form first recorded 1840.
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