Why Is a Sweater Called a Jumper?

The word “jumper” for a sweater comes from an old word for a large, loose men’s jacket called a “jump,” which is no longer used. The word “jumper” is mostly used in England, while “sweater” is more common in the U.S.

Artists and workers in the 1800s often wore a large, thick shirt called a “jump,” which we would call a “smock” today. It was later called a “jumper” in England for any knitted or crocheted top, and a “sweater” in the U.S. when it became a common winter outfit for people who like to be outside, especially those who play sports. Because of what they did, they would sweat, hence the name “sweater.”

In both British and American English, a jumper can be both a sleeveless dress worn over a shirt and a one-piece piece of clothing for a small child. In the United States, this is what most people think of when they hear the word. But in England, the word “jumper” makes people think of what most Americans call a sweater.


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