Definition of Mae West in English:

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Mae West

Pronunciation: /meɪ ˈwɛst/


informal, dated
An inflatable life jacket, originally as issued to RAF personnel during the Second World War.
Example sentences
  • Over the clothing we wore a Mae West, then the British parachute and, on top of that lot, came the quick-release Sutton harness.
  • Their flight suits were khaki and they wore yellow Mae West life vests.
  • He was wearing his Mae West life jacket, as he always did on a mission over water, because he couldn't swim.


1940s: from the name of the American film actress Mae West (see West, Mae), noted for her large bust.

  • see from Old English:

    The see meaning ‘to perceive with the eyes’ perhaps comes from the same ancient root as Latin sequi ‘to follow’, seen in second and sequel. Referring to the district of a bishop or archbishop, see goes back to Latin sedere ‘to sit’ ( see seat). In the 1927 film The Jazz Singer Al Jolson uttered the aside ‘You ain't heard nothing yet’. This became the model for similar phrases, notably you ain't seen nothing yet. The computer slogan what you see is what you get—abbreviated as WYSIWYG—began life in the USA; the first recorded example is from the New York Times in 1971. It refers to the representation of text on screen in a form exactly corresponding to its appearance on a printout. ‘Why don't you come up and see me sometime?’ will be forever associated with the vampish actress Mae West. What she actually said in the film She Done Him Wrong (1933) was ‘Why don't you come up sometime, and see me?’. Mae West is remembered for a number of saucy quips, among them ‘Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?’ and ‘It's not the men in my life that counts—it's the life in my men’, while her buxom figure led to the inflatable life jacket issued to RAF personnel during the Second World War being called a Mae West. See also evil

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Mae West

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