Shoes & English

Shoes & English

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

Marilyn Monroe, an American actress, model and singer

“I need new shoes!”, “I’ve bought great shoes!”…

After you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be able to use richer vocabulary to describe what you need or what you’ve bought if the answer is, well, shoes. To get more specific, boost your vocabulary with us!


To begin with, let’s see what parts our shoes may consist of:

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Essential vocabulary:

  • Tongue: Sometimes the tongue of my sneakers slips to one side as I run. I need to find a way to keep it in place. 
  • Heel: I have some tips on how to take care of high heels. 
  • Sole: My new shoes are leaky! There must be a hole or holes on the soles. 
  • Insole: My favorite shoes’ insoles are pretty worn out now. I need to know how to clean them. 
  • Buckle: This cobbler knows how to fix any buckle!
  • Strap: I’m not sure I like these decorative buckled straps.
  • Shoelaces / shoestringsYou can change the look of your shoes with new shoelaces!


Here are some of the most common kinds:

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Essential vocabulary:

  • Knee high boots – boots that rise to the knee, or slightly thereunder
  • Wellington boots -knee-length waterproof rubber or plastic boots
  • Ugg /ʌɡ/ boots – soft sheepskin boots
  • Crocs – very comfortable shoes made out of foam resin
  • Slingbacks – woman’s footwear characterized by a strap that crosses behind the heel or ankle
  • Oxfords – lace-up shoes with low heels
  • Ballerina flats / dolly shoes – shoes with a very thin heel or the appearance of no heel at all
  • Slip-on shoes – low lace-less shoes
  • Converse – a shoe company whose name is used as a generic term now
  • Stilettos – woman’s shoes with a long narrow heel
  • Kitten heels – shoes with short slender heels
  • Platforms – shoes with an obvious thick sole
  • Peep toes – woman’s shoes in which there in an opening at the toe-box which allows the toes to show
  • Mary Janes / doll shoes / bar shoes – closed low-cut shoes with one or more straps across the instep
  • Flip flops – sandals consisting of a flat sole held loosely on the foot by a Y-shaped strap


Perhaps, there are almost as many shoe-related idioms as there are kinds of shoes! We’ve picked those that are definitely worth remembering:

  • To be in sb’s shoes / to put oneself in sb’s shoes – to be / try to be in sb’s position: I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes. I don’t envy his job!
  • To fill sb’s shoes – to take sb’s place: I’ll do my best to fill her shoes!
  • To walk a mile in sb’s shoes – to try to understand someone’s experiences, challenges etc. before judging them: How does it feel to walk a mile in my shoes?
  • (As) comfortable as an old shoe – very comfortable, comforting and familiar: My old house may seem small to you, but it’s as comfortable as an old shoe.
  • (As) tough as old boots – having a strong character: To succeed in this business, you have to be as tough as old boots. 
  • On a shoestring – without investing a lot of money: They are going to try to run the hotel on a shoestring.
  • Down at heel – worn, run down: The city center is down at heel. It’s such a shame!
  • The shoe / boot is on the other foot – the roles have been reversed, especially roles that were the opposite of each other: Well, it looks like the shoe is on the other foot, doesn’t it?
  • If the shoe fits, wear it – if something (typically negative) applies to you, you should acknowledge it or accept responsibility or blame for it: I know you don’t like being called irresponsible, but if the shoes fits, wear it.
  • To shake in one’s shoes – to tremble with fear: Don’t be shaking in your shoes! Everything will be OK!

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