A boot is a type of shoe that covers at least the foot and the ankle and sometimes extends up to the knee or even the hip. Most 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.
Hi-top athletic shoes are generally not considered boots, even though they do cover the ankle, primarily due to the absence of a distinct heel.
Types and uses
Boots designed for walking through the elements 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 the gaps left between the laces and the tongue in other types of shoes. Simple waterproof gumboots are made in different lengths of uppers. In extreme cases, thigh-boots called waders, worn by anglers, end at the hip level of the wearer. Such boots may also be insulated for warmth. Most boots commonly sold in retail stores are not actually waterproof.
Other types of boots are sturdy in nature,
meant for protection in wilderness or industrial settings. Speciality boots have been made to temporarily protect steelworkers if they get caught in pools of molten metal; to protect chemical workers from a wide variety of chemical exposure; and there are insulated, inflatable, boots designed for walking in the Antarctic continent. However, most work boots are "laceups" made from leather; formerly they were usually shod with hobnails and heel- and toe-plates, but now usually with a thick rubber sole, and often with steel toecaps. Work boots (like the popular Dr. Martens) were adopted by skinheads and punks as part of their typical dress and have migrated to more mainstream fashion, including women's wear.
Specialty boots have been designed for many different types of sports, particularly riding, skiing and snowboarding, skating, and sporting in wet conditions.
Fashionable boots for women may have all the variations seen in other fashion footwear: tapered or spike heels, platform soles, pointed toes, zipper closures and the like. The popularity of boots as fashion footwear ebbs and flows. They were popular in the 1960s and 1970s, but diminished in popularity towards the end of the 20th century. Today, they are becoming popular, especially designs that have a long bootleg.
Boots have their own devotees among shoe fetishists and foot fetishists. Singer Nancy Sinatra was largely responsible for popularizing the fad of women wearing boots in the late 1960s.
Boots in idiom
- Boots, particularly those worn as protective footwear by workers (work boots) have a reputation for being as hard-wearing as their owners, hence the commonly used simile "tough as old boots".
- A long established the sole detached, giving the impression of an open mouth.
- Another fate of a discarded boot is in the construction of a musical instrument known as the "mendoza".
- Tall 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. A German legend about a boy lifting himself by his bootstraps into the air, allowing him to fly, has led to the word's metaphorical use in many different contexts, such as "to pull yourself up by your bootstraps."
- To "die with one's boots on" means to die from violence as opposed to from natural causes (to "die in bed"); hence Boot Hill as a popular name for Wild West cemeteries.
- Boot camp a colloquial term for the initial training of new recruits enlisting in a military organization.
- Stormtroopers, skinheads, and other agents of authority or political strongarm tactics are typically referred to by their detractors as "jackbooted thugs," a reference to the tall riding or military-style boot of the Nazi uniform. Authoritarian rule, either by hostile military forces, or by groups of armed intimidators, is imposed by "jackboot tactics."
- The "boot", in British English and New Zealand English, refers to the storage area of a car termed the "trunk" in American English.
- To "give someone the boot" means to kick them out (of a job, a club, etc.), either literally or figuratively.
- To "put the boot off" someone's chin.
- "The boot is on the other foot now" means that a situation has become reversed -- a previous victor is now losing, for example.
- "Boot" also became a command in early computing, to mean starting up the computer or putting a program into the memory. It is still used today. It arose as short for "pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps".
- Wearing "seven-league boots" references a classic children's fairy tale and indicates that a person or company can cover great distances, figuratively or literally, in a single stride.
- Boots may also be use as a beer drinking device which one will fill up the boot and drink from it. The most recent notable boot use in the 2006 movie Beerfest using a glass yard with a boot shaped bulb at the end known as "Das Boot", a reference to the 1981 movie, Das Boot.
Types of boots
A type of boot can fit into more than one of these categories, and may therefore be mentioned more than once