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絶対{ぜったい}領域{りょういき} is a slang term that refers to the visible bare skin from the bottom of a woman's skirt to the top of her thigh high stockings. Or, short pants and thigh high boots... pick your preferred style. The point is that it's the exposed part of the thigh.

That's the meaning, but where did it come from?

Directly translated, it means "absolute territory". The territory part I get - it's an area on the body. But "absolute"? I find that hard to parse. Other meanings for 絶対{ぜったい} are "unconditional" or "unmistakable", but regardless of the translation choice, I find them all odd choices. Why 絶対{ぜったい}?

"Absolutely" sexy or "unmistakably" sexy perhaps?

Lastly, is this term regulated to otaku types who are into anime, or is it in common use?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

As with many odd slang words and phrases, it came from a quote in a particular situation.

"The distance between kneesocks and mini skirt is invicible! I can even say that it's the God's Absolute Territory..."

From: http://en.dic.pixiv.net/a/Absolute+Territory

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Niconico-pedia has the original quote, as well as the purported Golden Ratio of miniskirt hem to 絶対領域 to the portion of knee sock above the knee (4:1:2.5, +/- 25%). I don't like "absolute territory" as a translation, however. The original has 神の絶対領域, which IMO sounds better as "the supreme domain of the gods". –  Derek Schaab Jul 6 '11 at 19:10
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William: Mind editing your answer with an excerpt from the website, so people don't have to click the link to see the answer? –  Amanda S Jul 7 '11 at 4:17
    
@William,@Amanda: Not to mention that the page linked to is buried under all sorts of assumed knowledge about anime and its makers that obfuscate the core information. It would be nice if someone could sift out what really matters. @Derek: That does make for a more parsable quote, thanks. –  Dave M G Jul 7 '11 at 7:07
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