General English


  • noun a tight-fitting one-piece elastic garment that covers the torso and is worn especially by dancers, gymnasts, and acrobats


  • The tight-fitting one-piece practice costume worn by balletdancers and acrobats. It was popularized by Jules Léotard(1838 - 70), the French aerialist who invented the flying trapezein 1859. The son of a gymnastics instructor, Léotard used hisamazing agility and grace to perfect the trapeze act. He made a sensationaldebut at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris in 1859. His first Londonappearance, in 1861 at the Alhambra Music Hall, inspiredthe song 'The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze'. In 1959, onthe centenary of his debut, a commemorative plaque was dedicated toLéotard at the Cirque d'Hiver.

Origin & History of “leotard”

The leotard commemorates the French trapeze artist Jules Léotard (1830–1870), who wore such a garment when he was performing. He was one of the foremost circus acrobats of his day, and a pioneer of aerial stunts: he performed the first mid-air somersault, and invented the ‘flying trapeze’ (he became known as the ‘Daring young Man on the Flying Trapeze’, from George Leybourne’s song (1860) of that name), but fate has decreed that his name should be passed down to posterity in the form of a one-piece exercise garment.