|A cowboy sporting a fine pair of chaps|
Lithograph by Frederick Remington from 1901
Noun plural. North American. Late 19th century.
[Abbreviation of CHAPAREJOS Mexican Spanish chaparreras, from chaparra. Later form -ejos probably influenced by Spanish aparejo equipment.]
Stout protective trousers for cowboys etc.
If you've ever wondered where chaps came from (and what cheeky chap hasn't?), they're rooted in cowboy culture, the word being an abbreviation of chaparejos, a Mexican-Spanish word blended from chaparreras, meaning 'thicket', and aparejo, meaning 'equipment' or 'gear'. Bronco riding and cattle rustling is tough work, and even tougher on your clothes, so a sturdy pair of leather chaps is just the ticket for keeping that pair of Levis looking brand-spanking-new.
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