If the shoe fits, name it

1. This uplifting shoe was made for rising above the filth in the streets in the Middle Ages. Originally an overshoe from Scandinavia, it is still made almost entirely of wood. Its word origin comes from Middle English for a block or clump.

2. Linguist Webb Garrison claims that scholars at a British university caused an uproar throughout England when they adopted bobbed wigs and low, black-calf shoes laced only over the instep. These 'high-lows' bear the name of the university town.

3. The oldest shoe in existence was originally constructed of woven papyrus. It was the major footwear for ancient people in warm climates. The Greeks dyed, decorated, and even gilded it. The Romans gave it leather sides and laced it up. Archaeologists have catalogued a few hundred designs - as many as there are today, still!

4. These shoes grew by inches over the centuries beginning in 1500 and were originally worn by men. The advantage of an elevated shoe was first noticed by horseback riders; a heel secured the foot in the stirrup. Now, this heeled shoe is narrower and higher for women, serving more as a fashion statement than as practical footwear.

5. This Roman foot sock was called an 'udo' and was 'a place for the feet to take refuge.' According to historians, this goat-hair cloth fit over the foot and shinbone and, within a century, went up the leg to the knees. The 'stocks' were typically worn inside boots. Clergymen were among the first to wear them above the knee. Women eventually wore the hosiery, first in purple or scarlet-crimson.


(1) clog; (2) Oxfords;

(3) sandal; (4) high heels;

(5) stockings.

SOURCES: 'Why You Say It,' by Webb Garrison; Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, by Robert Barnhart; Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, by Walter W. Skeat; Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, by Charles Talbut Onions (ed.); Panati's 'Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,' by Charles Panati.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to If the shoe fits, name it
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today