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Galoshes, also known as dickersons, gumshoes, or overshoes, are a type of rubber boot that is slipped over shoes to keep them from getting muddy or wet. In the United States, the word galoshes may be used interchangeably with boot, especially a rubberized boot. In the United Kingdom, however, a galosh is an overshoe made of a weatherproof material to protect a more vulnerable shoe underneath and keep the foot warm and dry.
Etymology and usage
The word comes through French (galoche) and Latin from Greek and originally meant a shoemaker's last; literally "wood" + "foot". By the 14th century it had been transferred to English style clogs, that is those with a wooden sole and fabric (e.g. leather) upper. By 1572 the term also applied to "a Gallage or Patten"; that is, an overshoe with a shaped wooden base to raise the wearer's good shoes off the ground.
In Turkey, the word refers to a polythene overshoe that is worn temporarily when visiting homes or offices, to protect the floors against dirt from the outside.
The transition from a traditional wooden sole to one of vulcanized rubber may be attributed to Charles Goodyear and Leverett Candee. The qualities of rubber, though fascinating to Goodyear, were highly dependent on temperature: it was tacky when hot, brittle when cold. Vulcanization of rubber tempered its properties so that it was easily molded, durable, and tough. A rubberized elastic webbing made Goodyear's galoshes (circa 1890) easy to pull on and off.
Galoshes are now almost universally made of rubber. In the bootmakers' trade, a "galosh" is the piece of leather, of a make stronger than, or different from, that of the "uppers", which runs around the bottom part of a boot or shoe, just above the sole.
A more modern term for galoshes could be rubber boots or bad weather shoes. Overshoes have evolved in the past decades and now are being made with more advanced features, such as high traction outsoles.
An unconfirmed legend states that an Englishman named Radley invented galoshes. He suffered from rheumatism and wanted to keep his feet dry. While reading De Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar he noticed a description of protective cloth overshoes "gallicae" and decided to capitalize on the idea. He patented cloth overshoes reinforced with rubber to keep the feet dry.
There are two basic types. One is like an oversize shoe or low boot made of thick rubber with a heavy sole and instep, designed for heavy-duty use. The other one is of much thinner, more flexible material, more like a rubber slipper, designed solely for protection against the wet rather than for extensive walking.
In popular culture
- Russian FM radio station Silver Rain Radio has presented a "Silver Galosh Award" for the most dubious achievements in show business every year since 1996. This references the Russian idiom "to sit into a galosh", which means "to embarrass oneself" or "to screw up".
- Gummo Marx, the fifth of the Marx brothers, who quit the act during the family's vaudeville days and thus never appeared in a Marx Brothers film, was nicknamed by Art Fisher based on his habit of always wearing gumshoes. While all the other performers wore street shoes, and thus made a loud noise when they walked on a hardwood stage, Milton (Gummo) was known for startling people by appearing suddenly from out of nowhere, because the gumshoes on his feet gave him a nearly soundless footfall.
- Hans Christian Andersen wrote a fairy tale The Goloshes of Fortune about magic galoshes which made every wish of their bearers true, but this often didn't bring them real fortune or happiness. There are children's movies based on this tale, The Magic Galoshes (Czechoslovakia | Austria | Germany, 1986) and Russian Galoshi schastya (Russian: Галоши счастья).
- James Joyce's short story "The Dead" discusses "goloshes".
- The anti-Bolshevik scientist of Mikhail Bulgakov's story Heart of a Dog traces the downfall of Russian civilization to the disappearance of all the galoshes from the front hall of his apartment building (where they were previously stored without the fear of thieves) one fine day of March 1917.
- In the book Big Nate on a Roll, Mr. Galvin says he sold galoshes as a child when he was a Timber Scout. He says that when Nate is shown drawing his dream skateboard, which he can win if he raises money selling cheesey wall hangings. It is the first time Mr. Galvin is nice to Nate.
- In the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action", Scotty makes reference to "concrete galoshes", which is another term for "cement overshoes", used by the Mafia to dispose of their victims.
- In the stop-motion holiday special, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Vincent Price-voiced villain, January Q. Irontail, makes plans to replace the traditional Easter bonnet with Easter galoshes.
- In the Mighty Boosh episode "The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox", the Crack Fox asks Vince to move his galoshes before sitting down, referring to a pair of used condoms he calls "squishy boots".
- In the Adventure Time episode "The Jiggler", Finn and Jake comment that their exploded pet Jiggler is "all over the place, even between the floorboards, and the cupboards and the galoshes", which appear to be just a regular pair of rain boots.
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- "golosh". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- William, Langland (c. 1377), "Passus XVIII", in Echmidt, A V C, The vision of Piers Plowman, London & Melbourne: Everyman (published 1984), line 14, ISBN 0-460-11571-5,
To geten him ... galoches ycouped.[slashed shoes]
- Victorian Research Login needed
- "Golosh". 1911 Encyclopedia. 2006-09-24. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- "Galosh". Answers. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- Lawlor, Laurie. Where Will This Shoe Take You? A Walk Through the History of Footwear. New York: Walker and Company, 1996.
- Moilliet, J. L., ed. Waterproofing and Water-Repellency. London: Elsevier Publishing Company, 1963.
- O'Keefe, Linda. Shoes: A Celebration of Pumps, Sandals, Slippers, & More. New York: Workman Publishing, 1996.
- Yue, Charlotte and David. Shoes: Their History in Words and Pictures. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.
- Canizares, George. "Galosh Revolution." US Airways Attache (December 1998): 30.