pan·ta·loon / ˌpantlˈoōn/ • n. 1. (pantaloons) women's baggy trousers gathered at the ankles. ∎ hist. men's close-fitting breeches fastened below the calf or at the foot. ∎ inf. pants. 2. (Pantaloon) a Venetian character in Italian commedia dell'arte represented as a foolish old man wearing pantaloons.
Traditionally Pantaloon had the same role in both Italian and English harlequinade, as the father or guardian of the heroine (Columbine) who attempts to prevent her marriage to the hero (Harlequin).
The loose breeches extended below the knee, fashionable in the period following the Restoration, were known as pantaloons; the diarist John Evelyn (1620–1706) commented in 1661 that they had been taken by the French from the costume of the stage character of the period.
Recorded in English from the late 16th century, the name comes originally via French from Italian pantalone ‘a kind of mask on the Italian stage, representing the Venetian’, supposed ultimately to be derived from the name of San Pantaleone or Pantalone, formerly a favourite saint of the Venetians.