Difference Between Chinos & Khakis

by David Harris ; Updated September 28, 2017

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While some people use the terms "chinos" and "khakis" interchangeably to describe a style of pants, there are important differences between the two.


According to art director Kyle du Ford of BigandSharp.com, chino is a fabric made of cotton twill. Chinos are pants made from this fabric and are usually colored khaki.


The word "chino" comes from Latin American Spanish. It means "toasted" and refers to the color of the fabric.


While khakis are the same color as chinos, they come from a different type of fabric, which is a stronger cotton that originated with the armed forces.


The word "khaki" has Persian origins. It comes from the 1800s and translates into "dusted."

Expert Insight

According to Esquire magazine, "Khaki is a color. Chinos are a pair of pants. Know the difference but feel free to use them interchangeably."

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About the Author

David Harris is a writer living in Portland, Ore. He currently is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Spectrum Culture. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.