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Discover All About Wife Beater Singlet

Not long ago, an acquaintance said that her dad wears “wife beater singlet.” She referred to the ribber, sleeveless undershirt. The undershirt is also famous as an A-shirt.

But due to the torrent of the #MeToo campaign in view of ever-growing molestation and oppression against women, that term should be strictly condemned.

No one calls their pants “child molesters” or their hats “cat mutilators”. We instantly find such phrases as abhorrent and violent.

Sadly, how easily we overlook the same standards when it comes to calling our shirts “wife beaters”.

Men in Singlet
Men in Singlet

Suggested Read: Why Is A Tank Top Called A Wife Beater?

How come such a universally violent term “wife beater” for a singlet got into American slang?

Why Are White Singlets Called Wife Beaters?

Many blame Marlon Brando‘s portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in the movie “A Streetcar Named Desire” as inspiration for the term “wife beater” for a singlet.

Marlon Brando's portrayal of Stanley Kowalski
Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Stanley Kowalski

Because in that movie, Stanley Kowalski rapes, yells, and rages his sister-in-law and hits his wife while wearing a sleeveless shirt.


In Britain, “wife-beater” is sometimes used for Belgian beer Stella Artois, not the shirt.

Another hypothesis popular in the blogosphere is that a wife-beater was coined by a Detroit man who beat his wife to death in 1947.

But this might be a myth as there’s no proof in news archives, other than some photos from 1947, showing a man wearing a stained A-shirt.

Connie Eble, a linguist at the University of North Carolina who studies American slang, conducted periodic surveys with her students for neologisms. She said that in 1995, a student submitted “wife-beater” referring to the shirt for the first time. 

After 2007, students stopped taking the term as something remarkable because it was already widely used, so they put an end to using it. 

Currently, the term is shortened to plain old “beater.”

On the other hand, a newspaper article titled “An Undershirt Names … What?” in 2001 quoted an Oxford English Dictionary editor that the term was entered in the lexicon from rap, gang, and gay subcultures. Perhaps.


C. Brian Smith at MEL Magazine said that the term “wife-beater” came into being from a Chicago-based clothing company named Cooper’s Inc. 

A businessman named Samuel T. Cooper founded that wool sock company, famous for introducing people to briefs in general. Before briefs, men used to wear long underwear, like union suits or long johns.

Whatsoever, all these stories and hypotheses fail to uncover the reason behind it. 

Wife Beater Shirts in Fashion Today 

Whoever coined wife-beater, wearing wife-beater undershirts is trending nowadays for both men and women. 

Because finally, it has come a long way from the previous identity of a movie character or a terrible criminal.

The wife-beater is popular because of its thin tank top and form-fitting that makes it perfect as an under cloth. If you wear a tight shirt, it makes a lovely silhouette underneath, while if you wear the wife-beater underneath a baggy shirt, you won’t see it. 

You can keep your one or two shirt buttons open without revealing the collar. You can even open three or four shirt buttons to show your beater.

Girl Wearing Tank Top with Jeans Jacket
Girl Wearing Tank Top with Jeans Jacket

Also Read: Singlet In Australia

Wearing the beater is a great way to show your muscular arms when you wear it on its own. 

Celebrities like the cast of MTV’s Miley Cyrus to Jersey Shore have also worn the beater on their own to come up with a striking style statement.


The term “wife beater” for a singlet became viral due to various stories and hypotheses, from Hollywood movies to Cooper’s Inc.

It’s a comfortable and inexpensive shirt that can be used as an undershirt.

It works well when you work out and sweat in.

No matter how the A-shirt got that name, we can’t deny the fact that it’s been among the most commonly worn clothes by most people, especially by men.

Image Source: Shutterstock

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