This phrase is used to intensify the meaning of verbs such as
bore or charm or kid or scare or talk
. For example, That speech bored the pants off us
, or It was a real tornado and scared the pants off me
. Playwright Eugene O'Neill used it in Ah, Wilderness!
(1933): “I tell you, you scared the pants off him,” and Evelyn Waugh, in A Handful of Dust
(1934), had a variation, “She bores my pants off.” [Colloquial; early 1900s] Also see bore to death
; beat the pants off