A tank top is a collarless and sleeveless shirt which has wide shoulder straps and no opening in the front. It is often worn as an undershirt or by athletes as the top part of their uniforms.
The term for the shirt was entered into the American Webster’s Dictionary in 1950. The word tank top stems from the “tank swimsuit” which is a one-piece lady’s swimsuit that was worn in the early to mid-20th century in “swimming tanks,” which is what swimming pools were referred to in those days.
The white tank top undershirt, made of ribbed knit, is often referred to as a “wife beater” in the U.S. It is called this because the type of man who would dubiously wear the shirt with nothing over it would also probably have the bad judgment to engage in domestic violence. Tank tops can also be called singlets or vests in British English.
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