What is a bikini?

What is a bikini?

I thought I knew what a bikini is, but the term seems to encompass more than what I consider one. Also it may come down to your location. Merriam-Webster definition of a bikini is “a woman’s scanty two-piece bathing suit.” Then for guys it states “a man’s brief swimsuit.” With those definitions that would make what a bikini is a broader category.

My Thoughts on a Woman’s Bikini

For women the word scanty kind of throws a wrench into it. So a woman’s bikini is skimpy and skimpy is in the eye of the beholder. The other part says a woman’s bikini is a two-piece swimming suit. A woman’s bikini has a top and a bottom, which I think we can all agree on that. Since there are also tankinis out there, I think we could agree the belly area is going to be exposed in a bikini for women. I think the bikini bottoms are what needs to be defined for women. I see many women calling their swimsuits with a thong bottom or some just call the bottom cheeky (still pretty much a thong) a bikini, which fits the two piece definition. For me a bikini isn’t a thong/cheeky bottom cut.

A bikini to me has rear coverage. Typically, I think the back coverage would be more cover than a half back. More in the 3/4 to full coverage range. The sides of the bikini aren’t going to be much more than 2″. I think approaching 3″ it is entering a brief style bottom. That is kind of what I think of when I hear a bikini for women.

If we stick with the two piece definition for a bikini then maybe there are sub categories under it. So we’d have the thong bikini and g-string bikini. Then there would be a Brazilian bikini, Rio bikini, traditional bikini, brief bikini, hot shorts/boy shorts bikini. Seems the woman’s bikini has encompassed more than it used to at least in my head.

My Thoughts on a Man’s Bikini

For men the definition stated a brief swimsuit. Doesn’t take much to be brief compared to what most guys wear. A square cut is pretty brief compared to most swim shorts. Guess also you could look at it as saying a swim brief swimsuit. Though in my opinion that still isn’t a bikini. A swim brief is a brief. Bikinis have narrower sides like I mentioned with the ladies. Much over 2″ is more in the swim brief category.

Basically, a guy’s bikini is going to meet the same criteria as a woman’s bikini. The difference is a men’s bikini is going to have room for the package up from be it a contour pouch or a fabric that will stretch to accommodate them.

I’d probably define a traditional bikini as a bathing suit or underwear bottom with sides about an inch to two inches wide with 3/4 rear coverage and moderate frontal coverage. That is kind of what comes to my mind when I hear a bikini. Of course there is movement in either direction on the coverage.

My conclusion is a bikini is more a general term than a specific cut. For women it covers a wider range of styles with it being a two piece swimsuit. For guys it can be narrowed down somewhat between a thong and a brief. I do think a bikini requires a word descriptor or two before it to really give you an idea of the cut of it. What do you think of when you hear the word bikini?

11 Responses

  1. T says:

    What is a bikini? If I’d been asked that question many moons ago my answer would have been a two piece swimsuit worn by women. Later I became aware of the term bikini briefs being used in men’s underwear catalogues to describe undies that were briefer than y-fronts and regular briefs. Nowadays I might use the term swim bikini if a guy is wearing something skimpier than a speedo, and string bikini if he’s wearing undies with ultra narrow sides.

    • The Bottom Drawer says:

      Those are probably the ones I would use especially if I was talking to a person not into the styles. They’d understand brief, bikini, and string bikini over some of the descriptors I mentioned.

      • Arun says:

        Personally, I take offense to the term “speedo”. “Speedo” is a brand. We use such “slang” with the intent of degrading. When someone uses the term “speedo”, their intent is to insult. There are few things more insulting than not giving something its due respect by not giving it a proper term. So I simply use “bikini” and “thong”. Any other qualifiers are just to narrow it down to something more specific. I think it would be good to garner gender equality by using a proper term. For sure, I would recommend banning the use of the slang “speedo” – unless you are actually talking about the brand name.

  2. Dan says:

    I’ve always thought as a bikini brief for men being a North American term. In Europe, the equivalent to describe the same style of higher cut brief used to be a slip (which is French). Growing up, I always made sure I bought men’s briefs that were described as a slip rather than a brief. I think the term slips is slowly being replaced by terms such as hip briefs or low rise briefs. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    To me a bikini brief is a higher cut, shorter side, skimpier rear style of men’s brief.

    • The Bottom Drawer says:

      I do think location does make a difference with underwear/swimwear terms. I have noticed the term slip being used on European brands. Also micro brief is used for more what I would call a bikini brief places too. Then Kiniki uses the term tanga for a string bikini while others places the term is used for a thong.

      • Paul says:

        I always thought ‘tanga’ referred to string-sided briefs (quite a few UK stores used that term, particularly when they first started to become fashionable in the early 80’s). I associate the term tanga as used for a thong with Latin American countries, and have a sense that may have been the original use. Interestingly some brands (Olaf Benz for instance) now seem to use tanga for narrow sided briefs…

        • The Bottom Drawer says:

          My first thought has always been string bikini for tanga too, since Kiniki is the first place I saw the term used. I think tanga in Spanish translates to thong or at least loosely, which I got from a Spanish follower that made suggestions for a Spanish section in the forums. Might be others places that is true too and good chance you are right about it being the original use. It seems there is not a lot of inconsistency with naming underwear I see the same term(s) used for a variety of coverage with both men’s and women’s underwear.

    • DonS says:

      I’ve also heard Indians call them slips, which here in Oz means the old style under-garment that women wore (and hated) under thin summer dresses so underwear did not show.

  3. Mike says:

    I’ve worn bikini undies and swimwear for over 45 years. I’m originally English but have lived in Australia for over 30 years. I was brought up learnin*boo swim when everyone wore Speedos and I’ve just never given it a second thought.
    Obviously the younger generation tends to wear board shorts and often looks down and makes derogatory remarks about guys wearing Speedo’s, but if our prime minister can wear Speedo’s, that’s good enough for me. I have maybe 15 very small Speedo’s and two pairs of larger swim briefs for when I do t want to bring attention to myself, but normally I wear very narrow sided Speedo’s, usually from cocksox.
    Almost all my underwear are either thongs and G strings, the thinner the better, all my other underwear are bikinis, in the true sense of the word, very narrow sides, narrow front pouch, but I do prefer a full bum, I do have some Brazilian bikinis with a 1/2 or even a 1/3 back, but I find them slightly less comfortable.
    I can’t imagine a day when I’d ever wear boxers or other briefs, I want to be comfortable and feel good about myself, the larger briefs don’t do that for me.

  4. Arun says:

    I have mentioned my civil matter. This should outrage everyone. This is a copy/paste of our discovery question and her response:

    Please define “speedo thong”, with specificity, in your own words – as alleged in your petition and/or any of the hearings in this matter.


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