A boot is a type of footwear and a specific type of shoe. Most boots
mainly cover the foot and the ankle, while some also cover some part
of the lower calf. Some boots extend up the leg, sometimes as far as
the knee or even the hip. Most boots have a heel that is clearly
distinguishable from the rest of the sole, even if the two are made of
one piece. Traditionally made of leather or rubber, modern boots are
made from a variety of materials. Boots are worn both for their
functionality – protecting the foot and leg from water, extreme
cold, mud or hazards (e.g., work boots may protect wearers from
chemicals or use a steel toe) or providing additional ankle support
for strenuous activities with added traction requirements (e.g.,
hiking), or may have hobnails on their undersides to protect against
wear and to get better grip; and for reasons of style and fashion.
In some cases, the wearing of boots may be required by laws or
regulations, such as the regulations in some jurisdictions requiring
workers on construction sites to wear steel-toed safety boots. Some
uniforms include boots as the regulated footwear. Boots are
recommended as well for motorcycle riders.
1 History 2 Types and uses
2.1 Practical uses
4.1 In heraldry 4.2 Idioms and cultural references
5 See also 6 References 7 External links
Oxhide boots from Loulan, Xinjiang, China.
Early boots consisted of separate leggings, soles, and uppers worn
together to provide greater ankle protection than shoes or sandals.
Around 1000 BC, these components were more permanently joined to form
a single unit that covered the feet and lower leg, often up to the
knee. A type of soft leather ankle boots were worn by nomads in
eastern Asia and carried to China to India and Russia around AD 1200
to 1500 by
A pair of ISO 20345:2004 compliant S3 steel-toed safety boots designed for construction workers.
A pair of A-12
Boots which are designed for walking through snow, shallow water and
mud may be made of a single closely stitched design (using leather,
rubber, canvas, or similar material) to prevent the entry of water,
snow, mud or dirt through gaps between the laces and tongue found in
other types of shoes. Waterproof gumboots are made in different
lengths of uppers. In extreme cases, thigh-boots called waders, worn
by anglers, extend to the hip. Such boots may also be insulated for
warmth. With the exception of gum boots, boots sold in general retail
stores may be considered "water resistant," as they are not usually
fully waterproof, compared to high-end boots for fishers or hikers.
Speciality boots have been made to protect steelworkers' feet and
calves if they get accidentally step in puddles of molten metal, to
protect workers from a variety of chemical exposure, to protect
workers from construction site hazards and to protect feet from
extreme cold (e.g., with insulated or inflatable boots for use in
Antarctica). Most work boots are "laceups" made from leather. Formerly
they were usually shod with hobnails and heel- and toe-plates, but now
can usually be seen with a thick rubber sole, and often with steel
Boots are normally worn with socks to prevent chafes and blisters, to
absorb sweat, to improve the foot's grip inside the boot, or to
insulate the foot from the cold. Before socks became widely available,
footwraps were worn instead.
Specialty boots have been designed for many different types of sports,
particularly riding, skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, and sporting
in wet/damp conditions.
A pair of "classic" black leather Doc Martens. While these boots were originally designed as workwear (they are resistant to petrol, alkaline chemicals and other substances), they were adopted as a fashion item by the skinhead and punk subcultures.
High leather boots are the object of sexual attraction by some people, notably boot fetishists.
A pair of hobnailed boots
Boots have become the object of sexual attraction for some people and
they have become a standard accessory in the
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As symbols In heraldry
Coat of arms of
As boots have been used by riders for millennia, they were used by knights. As a consequence, albeit not common, boots came to be used as charges in heraldry. Because of the origin of heraldry as insignia used by mounted warriors like the medieval knights, when boots are used in heraldry, they are often displayed as riding boots, even if the blazon might not specify it as such. They are sometimes adorned with spurs, which may or may not have another tincture (colour) than the boot and the background field. Boots were also used in coats of arms of shoemakers' guilds and in shop signs outside their shops. Idioms and cultural references
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Further information: bootstrapping and booting
A pair of tall riding boots
Calfhigh leather boots with stiletto heel (Le Silla).
Boots that are particularly old and well worn, or a similarly tough
item are referred to as being tough and strong with the phrase "tough
as old boots."
A discarded boot may be used in the construction of a musical
instrument known as the "mendoza."
Tall (high) boots may have a tab, loop or handle at the top known as a
bootstrap, allowing one to use fingers or a tool to provide better
leverage in getting the boots on. The figurative use "to pull one's
self up by one's bootstraps" in the sense of "ability to perform a
difficult task without external help" developed in the 19th century in
US English. The term "bootstrapping" was subsequently used in a
metaphorical sense in a number of fields, notably computing (which
uses the term "bootup" to describe the process of starting a computer
and in entrepreneurship, which uses the term "bootstrapping" to
describe start-up companies which are launched without major external
To "die with one's boots on" means to die while one is still actively
involved in work or to go down fighting. Popularized by Wild West
A pair of
^ Fiona McDonald (30 July 2006). Shoes and Boots Through History. Gareth Stevens. ISBN 978-0-8368-6857-9. Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2012. ^ Margo DeMello (1 September 2009). Feet and footwear: a cultural encyclopedia. Macmillan. pp. 65–. ISBN 978-0-313-35714-5. Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2012. ^ XBIZ. "Kinky Boots: An Enduring Symbol in Fetish Fashion". XBIZ. ^ "Work Boots for Men ~ Every Occasion!". Bootratings. Archived from the original on 15 December 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015. ^ "American English Thesaurus". "as tough as old boots" phrase. Macmillan Publishers Limited 2009–2012. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012. ^ "It's been widely suggested that the "bootstrap" metaphor originated in the legendary tales of Baron von Münchhausen. As Chris Waigl recently pointed out on the Eggcorn Database (commenting on "boots-trap"), the original German version has a scene in which Münchhausen gets out of a swamp by pulling on his own hair. In an American retelling (supposedly), the Baron uses his bootstraps to pull himself out of a similar predicament. None of the 19th-century cites I've seen allude to the Münchhausen story -- instead, they often refer to pulling oneself over a fence or up a steeple. So if Münchhausen really pulls himself up by his bootstraps in an American version (which I have yet to verify), then the writer probably took advantage of preexisting imagery for an absurdly impossible task." Benjamin Zimmer, American Dialect Society, 11 August 2005[dead link] ^ "boot". The Free Dictionary, 2012 by Farlex, Inc. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
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