Bovver boot

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Bovver boot
Type Footwear
Material Leather
Place of origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Dr. Martens, Grinders, Solovair and others
The bovver boots

A bovver boot is a type of boot that has been associated with violence. Such boots are generally of sturdy design and may be steel-toed. They have been considered as offensive weapons used by hooligans for kicking opponents while street fighting.[1][2] The boots became known in the late 1960s in the United Kingdom, and continue to be a fashion statement associated with rebellion.


The term bovver in the UK developed as a th-fronting slang term (probably Cockney) for "bother", and was used in connection with aggro (aggressive behaviour) by skinheads and hooligans in the late 1960s.[3][4][5][6] Heavy steel-toe boots were stereotypically worn by skinheads, and were termed bovver boots.[1][5][7] Initially, heavy black army surplus boots were worn, but later, yellow-stitched Dr. Martens were adopted as the boots of choice.[8][9][10][11][12] Use in football hooliganism was countered by warnings to fans that they would have to remove such boots in order to attend football matches.[13]

Punk rockers were seen in the 1970s to "[stamp] their bovver boots",[14] with the boots being part of their "sartorial expressions of violence and disgust".[15] Punk rockers continued to be associated with bovver boots until the mid-1980s.[16] Punk fashion and the "years of teenage boot-wearing rebellion" since the 1960s gave way to trainers, with the arrival of Britpop in the mid-1990s.[17] In 1998, UK high street chain Boots promoted a ladette cosmetics range with a model "dressed in combat trousers, bovver boots and goggles".[18]

The journalist Laura Barton wrote in The Guardian in 2008: "After years in the wilderness, the bovver boot is back".[8] The journalist Karen Kay wrote in The Express in 2010 that "Dr Martens boots" have been worn by The Clash, The Cure, Madness, Madonna, the Spice Girls, The Sex Pistols, Avril Lavigne and Gwen Stefani.[19]

Cultural references[edit]


  1. ^ a b Paul Beale; Eric Partridge (2 April 2004). Shorter Slang Dictionary. Routledge. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-203-38007-9. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Wordsworth Editions, Limited (1 January 2007). Concise English Dictionary. Wordsworth Editions. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-84022-497-9. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Miriam A. Locher; Jürg Strässler (27 August 2008). Standards and Norms in the English Language. Walter de Gruyter. p. 54. ISBN 978-3-11-020698-2. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Allied Chambers (1998). The Chambers Dictionary. Allied Publishers. p. 189. ISBN 978-81-86062-25-8. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Tony Thorne (1 January 2009). Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. A&C Black. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-4081-0220-6. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Jonathan Bernstein (30 July 2012). Knickers in a Twist: A Dictionary of British Slang. Canongate Books. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-0-85786-945-6. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Eric Partridge; Tom Dalzell; Terry Victor (2008). The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Uncoventional English. Taylor & Francis Group. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-415-21259-5. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Tony Thorne (3 December 2009). Jolly Wicked, Actually: 100 Words That Make Us English. Little, Brown Book Group. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-0-7481-1478-8. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Fracassini, Camillo (February 3, 2000). "A spot of bovver as DM boot factory to be closed". The Scotsman. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  10. ^ a b Mortimer, Ruth (December 1, 2001). "Too bootilicious for your feet: call them what you like -- Dr Martens, Doc Martens, DMs, Docs -- but very few shoes have a youth following like Doc Martens". Brand Strategy. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  11. ^ Thompson, James (June 18, 2012). "Doc Martens bovver boots aim for £200m". The Independent. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  12. ^ Gunn, Cathy (March 31, 1996). "Max hangs up his boots with £200m". The People. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  13. ^ "Great Games: Chesterfield 2 Aston Villa 3". Birmingham Mail. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  14. ^ "We all rebelled against the estabishment [sic] to get our teenage kicks, but has much changed?". Western Mail. December 6, 2007. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  15. ^ Horyn, Cathy (February 3, 1992). "Harley's Roar On the Runway". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  16. ^ Fallon, James (May 31, 1993). "The doc is in". Footwear News. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  17. ^ Barton, Laura (June 16, 2008). "After years in the wilderness, the bovver boot is back". The Guardian. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ Ward, Amanda (May 1, 1998). "The bad ladettes; They're the girls with Geezer Power and don't give a damn who knows". Daily Mirror. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  19. ^ Kay, Karen. "Dr Martens: The bovver boot that became respectable". The Express. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Cavanagh, David (February 25, 1995). "Nemesis in a scarlet dress". The Independent. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  21. ^ Young, Graham (June 29, 2000). "They're in the Army now!". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved March 4, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)