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Plimsolls with elastic instead of laces

A plimsoll, also spelled plimsole,[1] or pump[2] (also known as a gym shoe[2][1] or a sandshoe[1]), is a light sports shoe with a canvas upper and flat rubber sole.

The shoe originated in the United Kingdom,[citation needed] there called a "sand shoe", acquiring the nickname "plimsoll" in the 1870s. This name arose, according to Nicholette Jones's book The Plimsoll Sensation, because the coloured horizontal band joining the upper to the sole resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship's hull, or because, just like the line on a ship, if water got above the line of the rubber sole, the wearer would get wet.[3]

A small-sized plimsoll with a tartan design, using a CVO (circular vamp Oxford) design/style

In the UK, plimsolls are commonly worn for school indoor physical education. Regional terms are common: In Northern Ireland and Scotland, they may be known as "gutties"; "sannies" (from 'sand shoe') is used in Scotland.[4] In parts of Edinburgh and Midlothian, they are known as "rubbers" or "gym rubbers", owing to their rubber soles and the need to wear them in the school gym hall.[citation needed] In London, the home counties, much of the West Midlands, the West Riding of Yorkshire, and northwest of England, they are known as "pumps".[5] In parts of the West Country and Wales, they are known as "daps".[6] There is a widespread belief that "daps" is taken from a factory sign—"Dunlop Athletic Plimsoles", which was called "the DAP factory". However, this seems unlikely, as the first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary of "dap" for a rubber-soled shoe is a March-1924 use in the Western Daily Press newspaper; Dunlop did not acquire the Liverpool Rubber Company (as part of the merger with the Macintosh group of companies) until 1925.[citation needed]

A pair of white plimsoll labeled as "tennis shoes"

In Hong Kong, white plimsolls functioned as cheap athletic shoes from the 1970s to the 1990s. Due to naming taboo (in Cantonese, 鞋 (shoes), sounds identical to 骸 (corpse)) and their color and shape resembling noodlefish, they were commonly known as baahk faahn yú(白飯魚). A pair typically cost around $15 HKD (around $2 USD) and was the designated gym class shoe in school. However, due to the canvas being thin and thus unable to protect the ankles and lacking support for the foot arch, plimsolls were eventually phased out and replaced by more sturdy sneakers[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "plimsoll". Collins English Dictionary. Collins English Dictionary. 2023. Archived from the original on 1 May 2021. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  2. ^ a b "plimsoll". Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2023. Archived from the original on 25 October 2023. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  3. ^ "99% Invisible, Episode 33 – A Cheer for Samuel Plimsoll". 4 August 2011. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  4. ^ "sannies". Dictionary of Playground Slang (Online). Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  5. ^ "BBC Word Map – enter What they wear and Child's soft shoes". BBC. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Footwear". Our Dialects. 1 January 2019. Archived from the original on 5 September 2023. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  7. ^ "第55章 ﹣ 白飯魚" [Chapter 55 – Rice Fish]. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2024.[better source needed]