Galoshes (from galoches), also known as gumshoes, dickersons, or overshoes, are a type of rubber boot that is slipped over shoes to keep them from getting muddy or wet. The word Galoshes might be used interchangeably with boot, especially a rubberized boot. Properly speaking, however, a galosh is an overshoe made of a weatherproof material to protect a more vulnerable shoe underneath and keep the foot warm and dry.
The term originally referred to wooden shoes or patten, or merely a wooden sole fastened to the foot by a strap or cord. Pattens were overshoes with tall, shaped wooden bases and mules or slippers into which one could slip their indoor shoes. In this respect, they could be considered similar to galoshes.
"Goloshes" appears to be the older spelling of Galoshes used previously in Great Britain. The spelling perhaps changed around 1920 to the present day spelling. A discussion took place in November 2007 on the Victoria Web Discussion group.
The transition from a traditional wooden sole to one of vulcanized rubber may be attributed to Charles Goodyear. The qualities of rubber, though fascinating to Goodyear, were highly dependent on temperature, tacky when hot, brittle when cold. Vulcanization of rubber tempered its properties so that it was easily molded, durable, and tough. A rubberized elastic webbing made Goodyear's galoshes (circa 1890) easy to pull on and off.
An unconfirmed legend states that an Englishman named Radley invented galoshes. He suffered from rheumatism and wanted to keep his feet dry. While reading De Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar he noticed a description of protective cloth overshoes "gallicae" and decided to capitalize on the idea. He patented cloth overshoes reinforced with rubber to keep the feet dry.
There are two basic types. One is like an oversize shoe or low boot, made of thick rubber with a heavy sole and instep, designed for heavy-duty use. The other is of much thinner, more flexible material, more like a rubber slipper, designed solely for protection against the wet rather than for extensive walking.
In the upper U.S. Midwest, school children know the black rubber, over-the-shoe boot as "four-buckle arctics".
Sole survivor ; Galoshes, rock shoes, and eco-friendly slip-ons, oh my - just when did men's footwear get so complicated?
Jul 19, 2011; "It is often said that a man's shoes are his most important item of clothing. They are. An otherwise perfect appearance is...