View Full Version : OT: Metaphorical use of shoes in English adages?

October 29th, 2009, 01:14

This is very much off topic. But you gentlemen have the English vocabulary in your powers, so I thought that this is the place ;)

What is it with the metaphorical use of shoes in English adages? I do see these adages on a regular basis in the books I read:

Living on a shoe string (I take that as someone living on a minimum of supplies?)

At the drop of a shoe (Something that happens fast/all of sudden/abruptly?)

Waiting for the shoe to drop (Something like waiting for the s*** to hit the fan?)

For what reasons is the shoe used that 'often'? Do any of you know the stories behind?

Kind Regards


October 29th, 2009, 01:23
'Gentlemen' ? Flattery will get you anywhere, Jesper.

Always been fascinated by language, particularly our own ( we are blessed with the richest language in the world, but don't tell the French)

I find some of your examples a bit odd - 'at the drop of a shoe' -surely it is normally 'hat' ??? And 'waiting for the shoe to drop' - I think I wait for a penny to drop. (Most Scotsmen would)

English has absorbed words and phrases from all human activities - don't think shoes are any more special than any other clothing....

I wouldn't bet on it anyway - you may lose your shoe... :icon_lol:

October 29th, 2009, 01:38
How about the shoe is on the wrong foot?

October 29th, 2009, 02:24
'Gentlemen' ? Flattery will get you anywhere, Jesper .
. . . . . I know, I'm married ;)

Nah, coming here - I imagine - is like entering a club with peace, quiet and courteous speech. :)

I like the English language - and languages in general - very much too.

I even experiment a little with French when on our camping trips to southern France. The French people I have met are happy to help an Absolute Beginner that batter their beautiful language almost to beyond recognition. No high-hatted attitudes were we come to visit. (Or maybe they just want to get me kicked out so they don't have to listen to me any more ;) Who knows? :)

To re-enter the subject, I think I read the 'shoe-thing' in books by American authors. Could the hat had become a shoe during the journey across the pond?

October 29th, 2009, 02:59
Next time I boot up my computer you can pump me for information,as, being retired, I am now a loafer, you see.
That's if I'm not getting wellied (one for the Brits) at my local, with all those other heels and their thick Scottish brogues. But I can only afford so much, being on my uppers, with all those laced drinks. (At least I get a kick out of them).
I'll come back then and continue to clog the forum up with waffle like this !
yours insole,
the Winklepicker.

October 29th, 2009, 07:26
Jesper you may want to have a look through this site....


It's a bit difficult to find things at times but searching through the 'Turns of Phrase' or 'General Indexes' sections may turn up some answers. I did find answers to one of your questions on there.

Waiting for the shoe to drop