The plastic tip at the end of a shoelace is called an aglet. Its purpose is to keep the fibers of the shoelace compact and easy to insert through a hole. Aglets are also used as a decorative element on cords.
Aglets are most commonly constructed of plastic. However, they can also be made from metal, stone or glass. Glue and paper were used to create aglets during the Great Depression. Prior to the invention of buttons, aglets were used on ribbon to aid in fastening clothes together.
The word "aglet" is derived from the Old French term "aguillette" and means needle.