Footwear Terminology Glossary

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-- A --

ABduction - Movement of a body part away from the median plane of the body.


ADduction - Movement of a body part towards the median plane of the body.


Anterior - Front, As front portion of a shoe or foot.

-- B --

Balance - to support or arrange to equalize opposing forces

Bal, Balmoral - Front laced shoe in which the meeting of the quarters and the vamp is stitched or continuous at the distal end of the throat.

Ball - with of the sole at the metatarsal heads.

Ball Girth - circumferential measurement encompassing the first to fifth metatarsal area.

Bilateral - pertaining to right and left sides

Biomechanics - the science of locomotion of the human body.

Bisect - divide into two equal parts

Blind Eyelet - a metal or plastic eyelet concealed beneath the top surface of the shoe leaving only a small rimless hole.

Blucher - front-laced shoe in which the quarters are not attached distally to the vamp, giving more allowance at the throat and instep for fitting

Boot, High Top - high quarter shoe in which the quarters cover the malleoli

Bottom Filler - material that fills the cavity between the outer and inner soles

Break - creasing formed at the vamp of the shoe when the metatarsal-phalangeal joints are in dorsiflexion

Breathability - the ability to allow air exchange to the foot through the material of the shoe

-- C --

Calfskin Leather - leather made from the skin of calves

Certified Pedorthist - one who is certified by the American Board For Certification in Orthotics Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC)

Chrome Tannage - tannage using chrome salts to convert hides to leather.

Chukka - three quarter blucher boot with two or three eyelets.

Collar - narrow strip of material stitched around the topline of the shoe, sometimes padded.

Combination Last - last that deviates from standard proportions; the heel is two to three widths narrower then the ball in exact proportions.

Composition - various materials which are pulverized, compressed and held with a binder to form a sheet material for insoles, midsoles, heel bases, and other components

Conformability - ability of a material to mold to the shape of a foot

Cookie - longitudinal arch pad

Cork - Made from the bark of a cork tree. cork may be combined with other materials; available in various forms such as sheet cork, natural cork, cushion cork, and thermo cork; different names are given to the cork according to the binders used

Counter, Long - counter extended distally; lateral counter is extended to the lateral metatarsal region; medial counter is extended to the medial metatarsal region.

Crepe, Rubber - neoprene rubber (artificial latex) compounded for use as soles and heels.

Custom Molded Shoe - shoe molded from a full dimensional cast of patient's foot.

-- D --

Deerskin - Leather made from the skin of deer.

Distal - part farthest from the central portion of the body.

Dorsiflexion - Upward movement of the feet toward the ankle.

Dorsum - top aspect of the foot.

Doubler - interlining placed between the vamp and the vamp lining for additional reinforcement.

Dutchman - lateral sole wedge.

-- E --

Elevation - material added to the plantar aspect of the shoe for leg length discrepencies.

Eversion - turning away from the midline of the body.

-- F --

Flare - widened heel or sole base.

Full Grain - outer surface of a hide with smooth skin intact

Functional Shoe - shoe designed to change the biomechanics of a person's gait

-- G --

Girth - circumferential dimension measured around the last

Ghille - shoe with lacing that passes through loops over the instep

Glove Leather - leather tannage generally used for gloves and now used with modifications, for some footwear uppers; has a soft feel and a dull waxy surface.

Goodyear Welt - shoemaking process in which the upper, inner, and outer sole are joined with a welt.

Goring - elastic fabric inserted in the front or side(s) of an upper so that the opening expands to accommodate the foot.

-- H --

Heel Elevation - Material added to the heel only to accommodate equinus position or limb length discrepancy.

Heel Breast - anterior margin of heel

Heel Height - Vertical measurement from the plantar surface to the heel seat at the anterior surface of the heel, usually in eights of an inch.

Heel Pitch - vertical slant at the posterior aspect of the heel.

Heel Seat - Area of the shoe upon which the foot rests.

Heel, Thomas - heel with anteriorly extended medial border.

Hindfoot - the tarsus region or back part of the foot.

-- I --

Inflare- last or show whose distal region provides more medial then lateral surface area.

Injection Molded - shoe construction whereby a heat softened plastic is injected into a mold, then compressed against the matting surface of a concentric mold and allowed to cool and harden to form the sole and heel unit.

Inlay - material or device inserted into the shoe.

Inner Sole - material conforming to the size and shape of the last bottom upon which the foot rests; an insole

Instep - portion of the upper over the middlefoot

Internal - inner part, as inside of a shoe

Inversion  - turning inward

Iron - term used to represent 1/48th of an inch; used in measuring sole thickness, for example six iron sole is 1/8 inch thick

-- J, K, L --

Lace Stay - portion of the upper containing eyelets for lacing

Lace to Toe - low or high quarter shoe laced to the toe

Last - model approximating the shape and size of the foot, which a shoe is made, usually made of wood or plastic or plaster

Lasting - fitting and shaping of the upper to the last

Last System - methods of sizing last dimensions: arithmetic, geometric, dynametic and europoint.

Lasting Allowance - extra material on shoe patterns to fit around and under the bottom edge of the last, lasting margins.

Lateral - pertaining to the side; away from the median

Length - dimension on the center of the last bottom from toe point to heel point.

Levy Mold - full length inlay that conforms to the contour of the plantar foot.

Littleway Construction - Shoe construction involving a lock stitch in which the upper is fastened to the insole with staples

Longitudinal Arch - arc of hindfoot and midfoot from mid-calcaneus extending proximal to the first metatarsal head

-- M --

Metatarsal Bar - rubber, leather or synthetic bar applied transversely to the sole of the shoe with the apex immediately behind the metatarsal bends

Malleoli - bony prominence at the distal portion of the tibia and fibula.

McKay Construction - shoe construction in which the upper is tacked, stapled, or cemented, and the sole is attached with chain stitches from inside the shoe through the insole and outside.

Medial - pertaining to the middle; toward the median

Metatarsal Pad - a device placed approximal to the metatarsal heads to relieve pressure and redistribute weight.

Midsole - sole placed between the inner and outer sole

-- N --

Negative Heel - heel whose plantar surface is lower or the same as the ball of the heel

Neoprene - extremely durable, oil resistant synthetic, rubber like material used for outsoles, heels and other components

-- O --

Orthosis  - supportive device for the body

Outflare - last or shoe whose anterior area provides more lateral then medial surface area

Outer Sole - bottom, ground contacting portion of the shoe, outside

Oxford - low quarter, laced shoed

-- P, Q --

Pedorthics - Allied foot health profession concerned with the design, manufacture, fit, and modification of foot wear and related appliances.

Plantar -  bottom aspect of the foot.

Platform - Elevated Sole

Polyurethane - Plastic used for uppers, soles, top lifts, and other components.

Polyvinyl chloride - thermoplastic material with various applications such as soles and heels; also known as PVC; can be used as a coating for uppers and linings.

Posterior -  back, as in the back portion of a shoe or foot.

Prescription - legal order requesting specific treatment, stating diagnosis and signed by a medical practitioner.

Pronation - tri plane motion of the foot consisting of eversion, dorsiflexion, and abduction.

Proximal - near the point of origin or attachment.

-- R --

Rocker Bar - sole bar with the apex beneath the metatarsal shafts causing, rocking instead of flexing action.

Rocker Bottom - a modified sole apexed at various at various positions to assist the gait cycle and relieve or transfer pressure from the designated areas of the foot and ankle.

-- S --

Shank - firm, stiff, inflexible area of the shoe between the heel breast and ball.

Sock Lining - material covering the dorsal surface of the inner sole.

Splint, Dennis Browne - rigid bar between both shoes used to abduct or adduct the feet.

Splint, Friedman-Counter - flexible strip attached to both counters; used to limit internal rotation.

Straight Last - form for constructing a shoe that can be worn on either foot or a shoe whose medial border approximates a straight line. 

Sulcus - long, narrow groove or furrow on the plantar surface of the foot proximal to the phalanges.

Supination - a tri plane motion consisting of the simultaneous movement of the calcaneus and the foot in the direction of adduction, inversion and plantar flexion

-- T --

Tanning - process of converting raw hides and skins into leather by a combination of chemical and mechanical means.

Tarsus - the seven bones that form the hind portion of the foot.

Thermoplastic - synthetic material that can be repeatedly softened by heat and hardened by cooling.

Throat - entrance of the shoe where vamp and quarters usually meet

Toe Box - reinforcement used to retain the original contour of the toe and guard the foot against trauma or abrasion

Toe Crest - convex cushion under the plantar phalangeal-sulcus.

Toe Spring - space between the outer sole and horizontal treading surface measured vertically at the the toe, allowing rocker effect for shoe function.

Toplift - replaceable outer layer of a shoe heel.

Transverse Arch - the arch formed by the metatarsal bones

Tricot - knitted synthetic fabric commonly used for linings in women's shoes.

-- V --

Vamp - forepart of the shoe upper over the metatarsal shafts.

Valgus - condition where heel turns out abnormally, the motion of the foot rolling in this position is known as pronation or eversion

Varus - condition where heel turns in abnormally, the motion of the foot rolling in this position is known as supination or inversion

Velcro - Nylon material in the form of hook and loop tape that fastens to itself; often used in place of laces and other shoe closures.

Vegetable Tannage - process of converting hide to leather that uses materials derived from plant life such as oak, chestnut, quebracho, myrobalans or divi-divi.

Vulcanizing Process - Bonding of the outer sole to the upper from a sole mold in which the soft rubber molds to the shoe, then is allowed to cool and harden; common in footwear such as sneakers.

-- W, X, Y, Z --

Waist - section of the last or shoe between the ball and instep.

Wedge - tapered leather, rubber, or other material used to elevate one side of the sole and/or heel.

Wedging - insertion of wedges inside the shoe or on the sole and/or wheel.

Welt - narrow strip of leather or other material used to join the upper innersole and outersole by means of stitching.

Width - linear measurement from the medial to the lateral border of the foot.