One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An inflatable life jacket, originally as issued to pilots during World War II.
- ‘Their flight suits were khaki and they wore yellow Mae West life vests.’
- ‘Over the clothing we wore a Mae West, then the British parachute and, on top of that lot, came the quick-release Sutton harness.’
- ‘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.
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