Braccae is the Latin term for "trousers", and in this context is today used to refer to a style of pants, made from wool. The Romans encountered this style of clothing among peoples whom they called "Galli" (Gauls) [Diodorus Siculus, "Bibliotheca Historica"] . This is often assumed to mean speakers of Celtic languages, though many scholars (eg. John Collis [Collis, John (2003). "The Celts: Origins, Myths, Inventions", Tempus. ISBN 0-7542-2913-2] , Peter S Wells [Wells, Peter S (2001). "Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians", Duckworth Debates in Archaeology. ISBN 0-7156-3036-9] , Stephen Oppenheimer [Oppenheimer, Stephen (2006). "The Origins of the British", Constable & Robinson.] ) doubt that the term "Galli" was primarily based on linguistic affiliation.

Braccae were typically made with a drawstring, and tended to reach from just above the knee at the shortest, to the ankles at the longest, with length generally increasing in tribes living further north.

When the Romans first encountered the braccae, they thought them to be effeminate (Roman men typically wore tunics, which were one-piece outfits terminating at or above the knee). However, braccae eventually became popular among Roman legionaries stationed in cooler climates to the north of southern Italy.


The word is cognate with the English "breeches". It appears to derive from the Indo-European root *"bhrg"- 'break', here apparently used in the sense 'divide', 'separate'. The consonant sequence *"b.r.k" implies an origin in the Germanic (with regular sound change *"g" > *"k") rather than the Celtic branch of the Indo-European languages; Celtic would regularly have *"b.r.g" instead, as in Scottish Gaelic "briogais". The word is well-attested in the Germanic languages (see breeches).

If the Romans learnt this word from Celtic-speakers, it seems odd that the Latin word has "cc", apparently resembling the Germanic form with *"k" rather than the Celtic form with *"g". There are several possible explanations for this:

* The Romans first heard the word from Celtic-speakers who had in turn borrowed it from Germanic-speakers.
* The Romans first heard the word from Germanic-speakers.
* The Romans first heard a form with Celtic *"g", but the pronunciation they came to use in imitation did not accurately reflect what they originally heard.


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