Boots up!

So, this is fairly random, but as I am on the Pathetic Anglophilia beat here, I thought I would write about a distinction between British and American English that I hadn't ever noticed before:

In the US, we would never ever refer to those as boots.

The current MLB controversy about footwear made it fairly easy for me to ascertain that sports reporters in the US will refer to such shoes as spikes or cleats (that's synecdoche, if you're following at home) and that the official rules of MLB refer to them as shoes. There are lots of words for athletic shoes, of course—trainers, tennies, sneakers, etc—and there is such a thing as an athletic boot in the US, but it doesn't look like a football boot.

In fact, I would have assumed, not knowing anything, that if UK boots were something like a US sneakers, they would be high-tops, such as I still call chucks. What distinguishes a boot from a shoe, after all, is that a boot covers the ankle (and sometimes the calf) and a shoe does not. This is not so, however; most football boots appear to be low-cut. I've no idea why they are called boots, then, and not trainers, but there it is.


3 Responses to “Boots up!”

  1. Jacob

    According to Wikipedia, in the early twentieth century, they actually were boots.

    • -Ed.

      And evidently when they stopped being boots, they kept on being boots for some reason. Hm.

      Also, I suspect that the editor of that page was sniggering up his sleeve when he was writing about the stud arrangements for different positions. Kept it subtle, though, so only someone with a dirty mind would… wait a second, never mind.



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