Glossary of Terms

Achilles Notch

A notched groove in the back of the heel collar, which helps to assure a snug fit at the heel without irritation.

Ankle Strap

A strap attached to the rear of the shoe that encircles the ankle. Usually features an adjustable buckle or elastic.

Ankle Wrap

Straps that are meant to be wrapped and tied around the ankle for a stylish accent.


A type of leather finish that creates a contrasting, rubbed-off appearance.

Approach Shoe

A rock climbers’ shoe with a grip sole to provide traction along the path to the climbing zone.


The curve of the sole between the heel and the ball of the foot. It is also the part of a shoe insole that cushions the foot’s arch.

Apron Toe

A type of toe formed by an overlay on the front of the shoe, with distinct edges or stitching.

Athleisure Shoe

A cross between athletic and leisure shoes, these sneakers are hip and casual street wear.

Athletic Shoe

Footwear for specific athletic performance, such as running, tennis, basketball, cross-training, soccer, etc.


The fleshy part of the foot located between the arch and the big toe.

Ballerina Flat

A flat shoe in ballet style meant for daily wear.

Balmoral Shoe

A front-laced shoe with a V-shaped panel that crosses the foot.

Bellows Tongue

The tongue of a shoe that is attached to the sides as well as the top.

Bicycle Toe

Named for its resemblance to bicycle shoes, it is a type of toe that has two straight lines of stitching.

Blucher Toe

A shoe toe featuring a turned stitch border that looks like a reverse apron toe.


Two side flaps on a shoe that are laced across the foot.

Boat Shoe

Originally intended to be worn on a boat deck, this classic, casual shoe, often leather, has nonslip soles and side lacing.


Footwear that is ankle-height or higher, and ranges in use from functional work styles to high fashion.


A shoe that resembles a boot in style but is not as high; also known as a shoe-boot.


The crease that occurs from frequent wear across the vamp of the shoe.


An oxford-style shoe, often leather, with perforated details.


A clasp at the end of a length of material, used for fastening.


The polishing technique used to give a leather shoe an antiquing finish.


The soft, supple leather derived from the skin of young cows.

Cap Toe

Also called a tip, it is a leather overlay that covers the toe of a shoe and comes in various shapes and styles.

Cemented Construction

The manner in which the upper of a shoe is joined to the sole with cement instead of stitching, creating a lighter shoe.

Chelsea Boot

A pull-on boot with elastic sides, usually ankle-height.

Chukka Boot

A lace-up, typically ankle-height boot style featuring a plain toe.


The measurement around the widest part of the boot shaft.


Athletic shoes featuring spikes or nubs on the sole for greater traction; used in soccer, baseball, or golf.


A slip-on shoe type with either an open or closed heel and casual style.


A piece of material attached to the shoe opening, which can be cushioned for added comfort.

Combination Last

A last used to make a shoe with a narrow heel and a wide toe box.

Composite Toe

Like a steel toe, a composite toe helps to prevent work injuries, but is made from non-metallic materials such as plastic, carbon fiber, elastic polymer, fiberglass, or even Kevlar.

Contoured Footbed

An easily shaped, foot-molding shoe insole.


A piece of rigid material used to maintain the shape of a shoe; it is put between the lining and upper at the shoe’s heel.

Crepe Sole

A shoe sole with a texture similar to crepe paper.


Shoes meant for a variety of cross-training exercises, such as running and aerobics.


Padding on the sole of a shoe to provide comfort and shock absorption and protect joints against high- impact activities.

Demi Boot

A boot style with a shaft that goes no higher than the ankle.

Distressed Leather

Leather that has been styled to look worn, beaten, and scratched.


A pump style with one or two sides cut out.


A shoe finish achieved with gloss or polish.


A lining material made up of a moisture-absorbing under layer called Hydrofil and a moisture-resistant outer layer.

Driving Shoe

A slip-on moccasin-style shoe, well suited for driving. They have gripping soles and flexible outsoles.

Duty Shoe

A practical shoe for service and health-care professionals.


(Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) A heat-sensitive, easily shaped synthetic compound, used for cushioning outsoles.

East/West Handbag

Also abbreviated as E/W, this style of bag is wider than it is tall.

Elastic Gore

An elastic panel insert used to create stretch.

Electrical Hazard Protection

Electrical Hazard Protection footwear acts as a non-conductive barrier to grounded surfaces, but only under dry conditions and only when dealing with open circuits of 600 volts or less. The electrical insulation offered by this type of shoe is restricted to the foot, providing limited protection from shocks, and so should be used as a secondary form of safety equipment, along with items such as OSHA-compliant rubber mats, blankets, sleeves, and gloves.

Embossed Leather

A pattern or animal-skin design imprinted onto leather.

Engineer Boot

A pull-on work-style boot with straps on the top and instep.


A sandal or shoe with a woven rope material on the sole area.


A hole to thread a lace through, often constructed with a grommet or metal ring.

Faux Leather

Synthetic material, often polyurethane, made to resemble leather.


Used for insoles, heel lifts, and counters, this material is made up of wood pulp.


An application of polish to create the final surface look of a shoe, such as gloss or antiquing.

Fisherman Sandal

A sandal type characterized by a closed toe and stitched or woven vertical and horizontal straps.


Athletic shoes that are specially suited for working out.

Flat Foot

A collapsed foot arch, causing the whole foot bottom to touch the ground.


Another word for insole, the place where the foot rests in the shoe.


The place on the foot located between the toes and the ball.


Often found on canvas sneakers, it is the rubber strip that connects the sole and upper of a shoe.

Full-Grain Leather

Naturally textured leather.


Each person’s unique way of walking.

Gait Control

A system used in athletic shoes to control the foot motion in order to prevent injury or strain.

Gardening Clog

A shoe type well suited for gardening, it is rubber, waterproof, and often backless.


A shoe style featuring laces that pass through leather or fabric loops on the front of the shoe.


A shoe last circumference, measured around the ball of the foot.


Goat-hide leather.

Goodyear Welt®

A durable stitching process where the sole and upper are stitched together with a visible seam along the outside.


Elastic panels on both sides of the vamp of a shoe, used to increase comfort and make shoes easier to put on and remove.


Naturally occurring surface pattern of leather.

Harness Boot

A boot style featuring heel and instep straps, often with a ring detail.

Heel Counter

A leather piece that makes up the back of a shoe or boot.

Heel Height

Measured in a vertical line from where the sole meets the heel down to the floor, heel height is expressed in increments of 1/8 of an inch.

Heel Seat

The part of the shoe where the heel joins the sole, located just below the heel of the foot.

Hidden Gore

Covered by the shoe’s tongue, this elastic panel is used to improve comfort.


Animal skin that is treated and used to make clothes, accessories, and shoes.


Originally from Central America, this sandal type is flat with an upper of woven leather.

Imitation Leather

Any of a variety of synthetic materials meant to resemble leather.

Industrial Footwear

Shoes with OSHA and ANSI ratings.

Injection-Molded Construction

A mass-production method of constructing shoe soles where PVC or similar materials are melted and injected into a sole mold.


The inside lining of the shoe, often cushioned, on which the foot rests.


The part of the foot located between the toes and the ankle, and the top front area on a shoe.

Jelly or Jellie

A rubbery, often translucent material, used for insole cushioning.

Jodhpur Boot

A slip-on, ankle-height boot with elastic sides, also known as a Chelsea boot.


Young goat hide, which produces porous, supple leather.


A fringed tongue used decoratively over a shoe’s vamp.

Kitten Heel

A low-height type of shoe heel that is set forward.


A foot-like form made of wood, metal, or plastic used to construct and repair shoes.


Young sheepskin leather.


The shaping and pulling method used on shoes on a last.


The treated, tanned skin of an animal.


A layer of leather board or leather that, with other layers, makes up a heel.

Light Hiking

Shoes well suited for day hikes; not recommended for long-distance backpacking or climbing.


The fabric, leather, or synthetic material that makes up the inside of a shoe.


A slip-on-style shoe, with no clasps or laces.


Used in the construction of dress shoes, this is a type of hard, translucent plastic.

Lug Sole

A heavy rubber sole with a patterned sole for traction.


A soft, waterproof fabric and neoprene rubber blend, which can be used as a lining.

Mary Jane

A classic shoe style with a low heel and instep strap with buckle or elastic fasteners.

Medial Area

The inner side of the shoe.

Mersey Boot

A type of dress boot with a raised heel and zippered side; also called Beatle boots.

Metatarsal Bones

These five bones make up the slope on top of the foot from toes to instep and are essential for walking and running.


A tightly knit fabric frequently used in shoe construction.


The layer of support material in between the innersole and outsole.


An evening bag that is small and highly decorated.

Moc Toe

Originating on moccasins, this is a kind of stitched toe design.


A slip-on shoe with visible stitching and a soft leather bottom, this is probably the earliest type of shoe.

Mod Style

Derived from the Mod look of the 1960s, it incorporates pop art, bright color, and geometric designs.

Monk Strap

A closed oxford-style shoe that has a side instep strap with a buckle instead of a front lace-up closure.


Constructions in athletic shoes designed to control the amount of inward roll (pronation) of the foot.

Motorcycle Boot

Thick-soled, durable boots well suited for motorcycle riding.


Slippers or shoes that are backless and have a closed toe

Napa Leather

A smooth, stretchy sheepskin leather.

Negative Heel

A type of comfort shoe feature, with a lowered heel footbed.


A soft, waterproof blend of Spandex and rubber, often used as lining.

North/South Handbag

Also abbreviated as N/S, this style of bag is taller than it is wide.


A smooth lightweight leather often used on shoe uppers.


An insole designed to cushion and support the foot.


A layer of material placed as detailing on a shoe.


The bottom, exposed sole of a shoe.


Excessive inward motion of the foot, often leading to injury.


A term indicating a low shoe with laces tied over the instep.

Patent Leather

A slick and shiny leather usually made from cow hide.

Pebble Grain

A leather finish made to appear rough like pebbles.

Peekaboo Toe

A closed toe style with a small opening to reveal a bit of the toes.


A slip-on shoe featuring a slot above the instep, big enough to hold a penny.


A decorative pattern of small holes along the trim of a shoe.


A decorative saw-tooth edging along the trim of a shoe.


A thin leather strip along the seam of a shoe, used decoratively.


The angle where the sole meets the back part of the shoe heel. High-heeled shoes typically have a pitch at a larger angle for stability.

Platform Shoe

A shoe style featuring a very high heel and sole.

Polyurethane (PU)

A synthetic leather alternative that is lightweight and durable.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

A plastic material that is semi-rigid and is frequently used as support in outsoles and heel counters.


The inward roll of the foot as it hits the ground, which may cause shoes to wear out along the inner side of the outsole.


A women’s dress shoe style, with medium heel height, a low cut, and usually closed sides and toes.


The back part of a shoe, meeting at the back seam and covering the sides and heel.

Quarter Panel

The shoe sides from the toe to the heel.

Quarter Lining

The leather or fabric rear lining of the shoe.


A term referring to styles inspired by past eras.

Riding Boot

A knee-height boot style with a low heel, intended for horse riding.


Where the foot enters the shoe; also called collar or topline.


Material that is pleated and with stitching details.

Running Cushioning

Running shoes that feature supportive padding in the midsole and insole for shock absorption.

Running Stability

Running shoes that feature stabilizing structure for maximum control of motion.

Running Supportive Cushioning

Running shoes that have both cushioning and stabilizing support.

Running Trail

Running shoes with traction for off-road terrain as well as extra stability.

Rx-able Lenses

Lenses in eyewear that can be removed and replaced with prescription lenses.

Saddle Oxford

An oxford-style shoe, often featuring a contrasting colored saddle overlay on the vamp.

Saddle Shoes

Classic shoes featuring a contrasting colored instep.

Safety Shoe

A rugged shoe equipped with safety features, such as a steel toe, for use in industrial settings.


A basic type of footwear comprised of leather or fabric strips.


A kind of wavy-edged detailing.

Scotch Grain

A rough, heavy-looking embossed leather surface.

Sculpted Heel

A high-heel shoe style made from one piece of material, often plastic.

Shaft Height

This is measured from the top of the boot shaft to the inside seam where the sole meets the instep.


Often used as a lining material for shoes, this is woolly sheepskin.


The skin of sheep, sometimes including the wool.

Shoe Horn

An tool used to help slide the foot into the shoe, often made of metal or synthetic material.

Shoe Sizes

Full sizes go up in 1/3-inch increments, and half sizes in 1/6 of an inch.

Side Leather

The leather created from the sides of a cow.


A slick polymeric material used for waterproofing.

Siped Sole

An outsole found on boat shoes that has grooves to disperse water.


A flat or heeled shoe with an open back and toe, and a band over the toe.


Backless shoes secured to the foot with a strap in the back.


A shoe style that allows the foot to easily slide in.


A flat soled shoe that is easy to slip onto the foot, often for indoor wear.


A shoe or boot with a design of gathered material that seems to slouch.

Smooth Leather

Leather without a rough surface grain.


The scaly leather made from the skin of snakes.


A rubber-soled athletic shoe.

Snip Toe

A square and tapered toe type.

Sock Liner

The insole on which the foot rests within the shoe.


The bottom, or outsole, of a shoe.


A waterproof material often used as lining, which is made up of Spandex fabric and neoprene rubber.

Split Leather

Leather made up of the lower layer of hide that is split from the grain.

Stability Shoes

These provide support against inward foot roll for mild to moderate cases of over-pronation.

Stacked Heel

A heel made up of stacked layers.

Steel Toes

Found in industrial footwear, steel toes function to prevent work injuries.


Named after a thin knife, these heels are high, narrow, and tapered.

Straight Lasted

Last type for making pronation-preventing straight shoes.

Studio Aerobic

Athletic shoes well suited for physical fitness workouts.


Leather with a soft, nappy texture.

Sueded Fabric

Fabric that has been made to simulate suede.


When the foot rolls outward while running or walking, which can cause injury.

Synthetic Materials

Man-made materials produced to simulate leather.


The conversion of raw skins into finished leather.


A leather or metal addition onto a shoe sole.


A decorative element found on moccasins and loafers made of a rope and knot.


A sandal with a V-strap between the first and second toes that attaches to the sole.


The opening of a shoe from the ankle to the vamp.


An extra leather piece on top of the shoe toe, which comes in various shapes.

Toe Ridge

A supportive horizontal ridge on the footbed of some shoes and sandals.


The strip of material attached to the vamp and leading to the shoe’s throat.

Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR)

A plastic material used in the injection-molding procedure.

Thermoplastic Urethane (TPU)

A plastic running-shoe support material for the middle foot.

Trail Runners

Running shoes with added traction on the soles for off-road terrain.


A shoe’s sole design, or how it becomes worn.


A vertical strap type that connects the ankle and toes.

Turf Cleats

Plastic or rubber nubs on athletic shoes that are permanent or removable.

Unit Bottom

The platform heel, sole, or wedge made from a rubber or plastic mold.


The leather, synthetic, or fabric part of the shoe that covers the top of the foot.

Vachetta Leather

A soft type of leather made from cows.


The front of a shoe upper which covers the toes and foot.

Vegetable Tanned

A vegetable procedure for tanning leather, beneficial for people with tanning-chemical allergies.

Vegetarian Shoes

Shoes constructed with synthetic materials and no leather.


A hook and loop system of fastening straps on shoes.


A hiking boot outsole made of this nonslip, rugged material.


A shiny plastic which can be used as a shoe coating, it is short for polyvinyl chloride.

Vulcanized Rubber

A strong rubber that has been transformed from its raw state.

Waterproof Leather

Specially treated shoes made to repel water.

Water Sports

Sports that take place on the water, such as surfing or canoeing, which require waterproof footwear.

Wedge Heel

A type of heel that follows the shoe contour from its ball to its back.


Wet-weather pull-on boots, usually made of rubber.


A durable strip of leather between the outsole and the insole.


Shoe width, measured in 1/6-inch increments, is expressed in letters, such as AAA, AA, D, EE, etc.. It is measured at the ball of the foot.

Wing Tip

A stitched toe cap shaped as a wing.

Work Safety

Boots with safety features such as steel toe, which follow ANSI safety regulations.