Browse through our online footwear dictionary to find the seven original shoe types – from which all the modern styles derive–as well as the definitions of various other shoe styles and shoe parts.*


alpargata – a Spanish or South American sandal-like shoe, usually with rope sole, attached to the foot by thongs.anklet – a shoe for a child or woman that has a strap around the ankle.

balmoral – sturdy laced walking shoe.

blucher, bluchers – high shoe with laces over the tongue.

boot – a shoe that covers the whole foot and the lower part of the leg.



brogan, brogue, clodhopper – a thick and heavy shoe.

calceus – a shoe covering the ankle; worn by ancient Romans.

chopine, chopines – a woman’s shoe with a very high thick sole (see: platform shoe).

cleats – a pair of shoes with cleats on the soles; “the football players all wore cleats”.

congress boot, congress gaiter, congress shoe – an ankle high shoe with elastic gussets in the sides.

counter – a piece of leather forming the back of a shoe.

d’orsay – a pump with a circular vamp and sides that curve downward sharpley, exposing the sides of the foot.



espadrille – a sandal with a sole made of rope or rubber and a cloth upper part.

fins, flipper, flippers, fin – a shoe for swimming; the paddle-like front is an aid in swimming (especially underwater).

footgear, footwear – covering for a person&rqquo;s feet.

gaiter – a shoe covering the ankle with elastic gores in the sides (see: congress shoe).

gym shoe, sneaker, tennis shoe – a canvas shoe with a pliable rubber sole (also see: running shoe).

huarache – a sandal with flat heels and an upper of woven leather straps.

insole, innersole – piece of material shaped to match the bottom of the last, which will be layered between the outsole and the sole of the foot. The shoe is constructed around it, with the upper, welting, and lining attached.



kiltie – casual shoe with fringed tongue that overlaps fastening at the instep.



kitten heel – low heel that tapers sharply to narrow base.

kitten heel


last – made of plastic, metal, or wood, it is the form used to determine the shape and size of the shoe. The derivation of the word is “laest”, the Old English word for footprint.

loafer – a low leather step-in shoe; the top resembles a moccasin but has a broad flat heel.



moccasin, moccasin * – a slip-on shoe made from soft leather with stitches around the top at the front, originally worn by native Americans.

monk * – a closed shoe, most often men’s, with a wide strap over the instep fastened with a buckle.

mule * – a shoe or slipper, with any size heel, covering only the front of the foot, leaving back open.



outsole – the outer sole of a shoe or boot oxford – a low shoe laced over the instep.



oxford * – A sturdy, low shoe that encloses the foot, and laces over the instep.

platform shoe – a shoe with a high thick sole. plafform shoe.



plug – the central piece of the upper of a moccasin.

pumps, pump * – low-cut shoe that surrounds the foot, without fastenings. May have heel of any height.



running shoe, sneaker – comfortable, lightweight shoe made of canvas or leather upper, with a pliable rubber sole, often used for athletics.

sabot, wooden shoe – shoe carved from a single block of wood.

saddle – a piece of leather across the instep of a shoe.

sandal * – a shoe consisting of a sole fastened by straps to the foot.



shoe lace, shoelace, shoestring, shoe string – a lace used for fastening shoes.

slingback, sling – a shoe that has a strap that wraps around the heel.



stiletto, or spike – very high heel, with long, slender shaft.



tongue – the flap of material under the laces of a shoe or boot.

vamp – the front lower part of the shoe’s upper part. May be shaped in various ways.

walker, walking shoe – a comfortable, low-heeled shoe designed for walking.

wedge heel – heel that extends down and forward to meet the sole, filling the entire shank portion of the shoe with a flat tread surface. May be of any height.



welt – strip of leather or synthetic attached to the outsole and upper, situated in the crevice between upper part of shoe and sole. For decorative purposes, it may also be only attached to the sole.

wing tip – a shoe having a wing-tip toecap – a piece of leather stitched over the toe-cap of shoe or boot. Used as decoration, it will often be perforated or of a contrasting color.


* This shoe is one of the seven basic shoe styles, from which all footwear fashions are derived. Of them, the moccasin is the oldest, dating back over 12,000 years. Most recent is the oxford, appearing approximately 300 years ago.