ankle sock



A sock is a knitted or woven type of hosiery garment for enclosing the human foot. Socks are designed to:

  • ease chafing between the foot and footwear,
  • keep the feet warm
  • provide comfort
  • be fashionable
  • keep the feet clean

Sock is also the term given to the layer of leather or other material covering the insole of a shoe. When only part of the insole is covered, leaving the forepart visible, this is known as a half-sock. The average foot has 250,000 sweat glands, and the average pair gives off about half a pint (almost 250 mL) of perspiration per day. Socks help to absorb this sweat and draw it to areas where air can wick the perspiration away. In cold environments, socks help to retain/remove the moisture given off by one's feet, decreasing the risk of frostbite. There was a shoe worn by Roman comic actors called soccus in Latin. It was a slipper and fitted loosely so it could be taken off quickly.


Socks have evolved over the centuries from the earliest models which were made from animal skins gathered up and tied around the ankles. In the 8th century BCE, the ancient Greeks wore socks from matted animal hair for warmth. Romans also wrapped their feet with leather or woven fabrics. By the 5th Century CE, socks called ‘puttees’ were worn by holy people in Europe to symbolise purity. By 1000 CE, socks became a symbol of wealth among the nobility.

The invention of a knitting machine in 1589 meant that socks could be knitted six times faster than by hand. Nonetheless, knitting machines and hand knitters worked side by side until 1800.

The next revolution in sock production was the introduction of nylon in 1939. Until then socks were commonly made from silk, cotton and wool. Nylon was the start of blending two or more yarns in the production of socks, a process that still continues.


Socks can be created from a wide variety of materials. Some of these materials are cotton, wool, nylon, acrylic, polyester, olefin, polypropylene, or spandex. To get an increased level of softness other materials that might be used during the process can be silk, linen, cashmere, or mohair. The color variety of sock choices can be any color that the designers intend to make the sock upon its creation. Sock 'coloring' can come in a wide range of colors. Sometimes art is also put onto socks to increase their appearance. Different sports generally brandish different sock colors and there are also sometimes each sock will have a different color (for some significance or another). Colored socks may be a key part of the uniforms for sports, allowing players teams to be distinguished when only their legs are clearly visible.


Other styles of socks include crew socks, mid-calf, and bare socks. A toe sock encases each toe individually the same way a finger is encased in a glove, while other socks have one compartment for the big toe and one for the rest, like a mitten – most notably Japanese tabi. Both of these allow one to wear flip-flops with the socks. Leg warmers, which are not typically socks, are commonly replaced with socks in northern regions of Scandinavia due to the cold climate.

Sock sizes

Sock sizes can vary from 8.5 - 11.5 . Sock lengths vary, from ankle-high to thigh level and much in between.

In the UK, a sock's size is the similar to that of a person's foot; for example, a foot that has a shoe size of 9 would require a sock sized 8-10.

In some parts of the world socks are sized differently than shoes. The chart below gives size equivalences, although there is no indication as to which of the numerous sizing systems it represents:

Sock size Men's shoe size Women's shoe size
9-11 3-1/2 to 8-1/2 4 to 10
10-13 6-1/2 to 12 8-1/2 to 12-1/2

Other less common sock sizes are 10-15, 13-15, and 13-16.

See also


Search another word or see ankle sockon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature