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CONTRIBUTOR: anonymous on 3/20/2016
Meaning & History
Americanized spelling of the Dutch occupational name Knickerbacker "marble baker", i.e., a baker of children's clay marbles. This lowly occupation became synonymous with the patrician class in NYC through Washington Irving's attribution of his History of New York (1809) to a fictitious author named Diedrich Knickerbocker. By the late 1850s the term had also come to denote a type of loose breeches gathered below the knee, evidently because of the resemblance of the garment to the breeches of the Dutchmen in Cruikshank's illustrations to Irving's book.