Why Are Shoes Called Pumps?

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Referring to shoes as “pumps” dates back to the 1500s, when men and servants wore shoes without heels known as “pompes.” From there, the pompes evolved from the plain, flat shoes worn by men to embellished, heeled shoes worn by women.

The most basic pump is a closed-back, strapless shoe that is lightweight. The heel can be any height. Pumps are made to slip on and off with no buckling or lacing, although buckles and laces can be added as decoration. The front upper portion of pumps are cut to be closer to the toes than the top of the foot. There are pumps available for any occasion, such as for work, dinner or a wedding.