AskDefine | Define shirt

Dictionary Definition

shirt n : a garment worn on the upper half of the body v : put a shirt on

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English scyrte, from Germanic *skurtijon. Cognate with Dutch schort, German Schürze ‘apron’. Skirt is a parallel formation from Old Norse; compare also short, from the same ultimate source.



  1. An article of clothing that is worn on the upper part of the body, and often has sleeves, either long or short, that cover the arms.
  2. In "shirts and skins" games, a member of the shirt-wearing team.


article of clothing

Extensive Definition

In American English, shirt can refer to almost any upper-body garment other than coats and bras (the term "top" is sometimes used in ladieswear). In British English, a shirt is more specifically a garment with a collar, cuffs, and a full vertical opening with buttons; what is known in American English as a dress shirt.
    • Camp shirt — a loose, straight-cut, short sleeved shirt or blouse with a simple placket front-opening and a "camp collar."
    • guayabera — an embroidered dress shirt with four pockets.
  • T-shirt — a casual shirt without a collar or buttons, usually short-sleeved. It is a common shirt for informal events.
    • Ringer T-shirt — tee with a separate piece of fabric sewn on as the collar and sleeve hems.
    • halfshirt — a high-hemmed t-shirt.
      • A-shirt or construction shirt os singlet (in British English) — essentially a sleeveless t-shirt with large armholes and a large neck hole, often worn by labourers or athletes for increased movability. Sometimes called a "wife beater" when worn without a covering layer.
      • camisole — woman's undershirt with narrow straps, or a similar garment worn alone (often with bra). Also referred to as a cami, shelf top, spaghetti straps or strappy top.
  • tennis shirt, golf shirt, or polo shirt — a v-neck shirt with a full collar; opening often closed with buttons or zipper running partway down the front. Short or long sleeve. Sometimes embroidered with club or designer insignia. Often worn with a sweater vest.
    • rugby shirt — typically a rugged long-sleeved polo shirt, of thick cotton or wool.
    • henley shirt — a collarless polo shirt.
  • baseball shirt — usually distinguished by a three quarters sleeve, team insignia, and flat waistseam.
  • sweatshirt — long-sleeved athletic shirt of heavier material, with or without hood.
  • tunic — primitive shirt, distinguished by two-piece construction. Initially a men's garment, is normally seen in modern times being worn by women.
  • shirtwaist — a dress which actually is really a shirt.
  • nightshirt — often oversized, ruined or inexpensive light cloth undergarment shirt for sleeping.
  • sleeveless shirt — A shirt with no sleeves. Contains only neck, bottom hem, body, and sometimes shoulders depending on type.
    • halter top — a shoulderless, sleeveless garment for women. It is mechanically analogous to an apron with a string around the back of the neck and across the lower back holding it in place.
    • tube top (in American English) or boob tube (in British English) — a shoulderless, sleeveless "tube" that wraps the torso (not reaching higher than the armpit, staying in place by elasticity or by a single strap that is attached to the front of the tube.
Tops that would generally not be considered shirts:
  • onesie or diaper shirt — a shirt for infants which includes a long back that is wrapped between the legs and buttoned to the front of the shirt.
  • sweaters — heavy knitted upper garments.
  • jackets, coats and similar outerwear

Parts of shirts

Many terms are used to describe and differentiate types of shirts (and upper-body garments in general) and their construction. The smallest differences may have significance to a cultural or occupational group. Recently, (late 20th century) it has become common to use tops to carry messages or advertising. Many of these distinctions apply to other upper-body garments, such as coats and sweaters.

Shoulders and arms

  • with no covering of the shoulders or arms — a tube top (not reaching higher than the armpits, staying in place by elasticity)
  • with only shoulder straps, such as spaghetti straps
  • covering the shoulders, but without sleeves
  • with short sleeves, varying from cap sleeves (not extending below the armpit) to half sleeves (elbow length)
  • with three-quarter-length sleeves (reaching to a point between the elbow and the wrist)
  • with long sleeves, may further be distinguished by the cuffs:
  • asymmetrical designs, such as one-shoulder, one-sleeve or with sleeves of different lengths.

Lower hem of shirt

  • leaving the belly button area bare (much more common for women than for men). See halfshirt.
  • hanging to the waist
  • covering the crotch
  • covering part of the legs (essentially this is a dress; however, a piece of clothing is perceived either as a shirt (worn with trousers) or as a dress (in Western culture mainly worn by women)).
  • going to the floor (as a pajama shirt)


  • vertical opening on the front side, all the way down, with buttons or zipper. When fastened with buttons, this opening is often called the placket front.
  • similar opening, but in back.
  • left and right front side not separable, put on over the head; with regard to upper front side opening:
    • V-shaped permanent opening on the top of the front side
    • no opening at the upper front side
    • vertical opening on the upper front side with buttons or zipper
      • men's shirts are often buttoned on the right whereas women's are often buttoned on the left.


  • with polo-neck
  • with v-neck but no collar
  • with plunging neck
  • with open or tassel neck
  • with collar
    • windsor collar or spread collar — a dressier collar designed with a wide distance between points (the spread) to accommodate the windsor knot tie. The standard business collar.
    • tab collar — a collar with two small fabric tabs that fasten together behind a tie to maintain collar spread.
    • wing collar — best suited for the bow tie, often only worn for very formal occasions.
    • straight collar — or point collar, a version of the windsor collar that is distinguished by a narrower spread to better accommodate the four-in-hand knot, pratt knot, and the half-windsor knot. A moderate dress collar.
    • button-down collar — A collar with buttons that fasten the points or tips to a shirt. The most casual of collars worn with a tie.
    • band collar — essentially the lower part of a normal collar, first used as the original collar to which a separate collarpiece was attached. Rarely seen in modern fashion. Also casual.
    • turtle neck collar — A collar that covers most of the throat.
  • without collar

Other features

  • pockets – how many (if any), where, and with regard to closure: not closable, just a flap, or with a button or zipper.
  • with or without hood
Some combinations are not applicable, of course, e.g. a tube top cannot have a collar.
Toplessness is the opposite of wearing a shirt of some kind, or a bikini top, etc. This is sometimes considered a kind of nudity, especially in the case of women.

Shirts and politics

Redshirts was the name used by Garibaldi's troops in Italian Unification.
In 1920s and 1930s, the fascism choose coloured shirts for made explicit its ideology:

See also

shirt in Catalan: Camisa
shirt in Czech: Košile
shirt in Danish: Skjorte
shirt in German: Hemd
shirt in Modern Greek (1453-): Πουκάμισο
shirt in Spanish: Camisa
shirt in Esperanto: Ĉemizo
shirt in French: Chemise (vêtement)
shirt in Inuktitut: ᐃᑭᐊᖅᖠᖅ/ikiaqłiq
shirt in Italian: Camicia
shirt in Hebrew: חולצה
shirt in Lingala: Simísi
shirt in Dutch: Overhemd
shirt in Cree: ᐸᒎᔮᓐ
shirt in Japanese: シャツ
shirt in Norwegian: Skjorte
shirt in Portuguese: Camisa
shirt in Russian: Рубашка
shirt in Simple English: Shirt
shirt in Finnish: Paita
shirt in Swedish: Skjorta
shirt in Yiddish: העמד

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

O, basque, blouse, bodice, body shirt, body suit, coat shirt, corsage, dickey, doublet, dress shirt, evening shirt, gipon, habit shirt, hair shirt, halter, hickory shirt, jupe, linen, polo shirt, pullover, shift, tank top, top, waist
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