|Look up aglet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
An aglet is a small sheath, often made of plastic or metal, used on each end of a shoelace, a cord, or a drawstring. An aglet keeps the fibers of the lace or cord from unraveling; its firmness and narrow profile make it easier to hold and easier to feed through eyelets, lugs, or other lacing guides.
Aglets today are most often made of plastic; in earlier times they were made of metal, glass, or stone, and many were highly ornamental. Before the invention of buttons, they were used on the ends of ribbons to fasten clothing together. Sometimes they were formed into small figures. Shakespeare calls this type of figure an "aglet baby" in The Taming of the Shrew.
According to Huffington Post editor James Cave, "The history of the aglet’s evolution is a little knotty—many sources credit it as being popularized by an English inventor named Harvey Kennedy who is said to have earned $2.5 million off the modern shoelace in the 1790s." Many rich people during Roman times would have their aglets made out of precious metals like brass or silver. Today, most clear plastic aglets on the end of shoelaces are put there by special machines. The machines wrap plastic tape around the end of new shoelaces and use heat or chemicals to melt the plastic onto the shoelace and bond the plastic to itself. 
There is a subtle distinction between aglets, which are generally functional, and aiguillettes, which are generally decorative. Aiguillettes usually appear at the end of decorative cords, such as bolo ties and the cords on military dress uniforms.
Shoe companies often produce their own shoelaces, for which they manufacture aglets. Many companies prefer to add metal sheaths over plastic aglets for the sake of durability. Some may add logos or pictures to provide evidence that the shoelaces are their own products.
- "Aglet." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
- Picken, Mary Brooks: The Fashion Dictionary, Funk and Wagnalls, 1957. (1973 edition ISBN 0-308-10052-2)
- "What Is an Aglet?" Wonderopolis. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
- Cave, James. "So THAT's What The Thing On The End Of Your Shoelace Is Called." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 22 June 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.