These cloven toe pumps will make you look twice


Originally published at:


Just make sure to use them where they leave good footprints.




So, okay to eat?


Where/when I come from, ‘pumps’ are flat soled rubber and canvas shoes for use in school at PE time - plimsolls.
When/where did ‘pumps’ come to describe a high-heeled shoe, I wonder?


Humans are weird looking creatures, and the things we obsess over - the length of a fleshy bit here, the pertness of some fatty tissue there, those things are also weird. Then we compound the weirdness by dressing it up to emphasize certain bulges and crevasses while hiding or minimizing others. I mean look, I buy in as much as anyone, but still- weird.

In his autobiography, Frank Zappa talks about a guy he knew who had set out to develop all the muscles that aren’t commonly exercised. The end result, he said, was a strange, lumpy physique that disturbed in unexpected ways. Probably not true, but I always liked the idea.

Anyhoo, I think these shoes are ugly (more because of the awful heel than the tabi toes) but not much more so than other footwear, and maybe less so than those high heeled crocs in the thread next door.

FDA warns companies: stop selling quack "vaginal rejuvenation," adds, "People, please don't do this to yourselves"

I assume it derives from pumps traditionally being flat shoes meant for dancing, and court shoes being standard womens footwear for ballroom dancing. I have no source for this though.


Yeah, I’d heard ‘pumps’ used re dance shoes, too. The key point being: pumps = flat shoes.


I think we can all now agree, pumps,
plimsolls, and plimsoles are all terrible word choices. I mean, what’s wrong with flats? Or why not plats? How about flimsoles? Or thinsoles? Maybe flimsies? But no, I am not suggesting floozies.


Why? (And why ‘now’?)

(Not agreeing, obvs.) :wink:


Of course. I am suggesting we build the time machine, go back in time, and FIX this dictionary abomination.


So, which toes go on which side?


I got mine in San Francisco Japan town for $31.00!



We called shoes like these “tabis” when I was growing up and they were for fishermen to walk on wet rocks to throw nets or pick opihii.


Yes! We called them ”Ninja” shoes when we were young. Very comfortable too.


Still better than the hideous things Todrick Hall wears in the video Dem Beats:


I looked at the wikipedia article to find out.

Not very helpful. The three references in the bibliography refer to menswear.

and here’s the OED.

pump, n.2
View as: Outline |Full entryKeywords: On |OffQuotations: Show all |Hide all
Pronunciation: Brit. /pʌmp/, U.S. /pəmp/
Forms: 15 pompe, 15 poumpe, 15–16 pumpe, 15– pump.
Frequency (in current use):
Origin: Of unknown origin.
Etymology: Origin unknown.
Perhaps compare pomp n.1 (although any connection seems improbable with German Pumphose light baggy trousers, pantaloons (end of 16th cent.), probably < Middle Low German pomp pomp n.1 + German Hose hose n.).
Alternatively, perhaps compare pump n.1 (perhaps compare earlier pump shoe n.1, although the semantic connection with the name of a part of a pump is not clear; perhaps originally an allusion to the tight fit of the piston of a pump).
N.E.D. (1909) also raises the possibility of imitative origin: ‘suggested by the dull flapping sound made by slippers, as distinct from the stamp of heavy shoes’.
German Pumps (singular) court shoe (early 20th cent.) is < English.
A light, usually heelless or low-heeled shoe, originally often of delicate material and colour, having no fastening but kept on the foot by its close fit; spec. (a) a slipper for indoor wear; (b) a more substantial but light, low-heeled shoe popular in the 17th and 18th centuries amongst dancers, couriers, acrobats, duellists, and others requiring freedom of movement; © in recent use, a formal shoe, usually of patent leather, worn for dancing and with evening dress; (d) orig. N. Amer., a court shoe; (e) Brit. (now regional), a sports shoe, a plimsoll. Cf. pinson n.
1555 W. Waterman tr. J. Boemus Fardle of Facions ii. iii. 124 Their shoes are not fastened on with lachettes, but lyke a poumpe close aboute the foote.
1578 J. Florio Firste Fruites f. 2v I wil buye me a payre of Pantofles and Pumpes.
1597 Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet ii. iv. 59 Thy Pumpe…when the single sole of it is worn.
1598 J. Florio Worlde of Wordes Also dancing pumps or little shooes.
1600 B. Jonson Every Man out of his Humor iv. i. sig. Liiv The gallans’t Courtiers, kissing ladies Pumps .
1688 R. Holme Acad. Armory iii. 14/2 Pumps are shooes with single soles and no heels.
1706 Phillips’s New World of Words (new ed.) Pumps, a sort of Shooes without Heels us’d by Rope-dancers, Running Foot-men, &c.
1719 D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe 229 They were not like our English Shoes…being rather what we call Pumps, than Shoes.
1763 Brit. Mag. 4 547 The flat-heel’d drudges now are thrown aside For the high pumps with toes of peeked pride.
1775 C. Lennox Old City Manners i. i. 2 Hey-day! what have we here? tennis pumps and a racket.
1807 Salmagundi 11 Nov. 358 Right goodlie morocco pumps, decorated with clasps or buckles.
1852 Thackeray Henry Esmond II. x. 171 He was a very tall man, standing in his pumps six feet three inches.
1880 Times 21 Sept. 4/4 Slippers, called pumps, which have only one sole and no insole, are also sewed in the old-fashioned way.
1897 Sears, Roebuck Catal. No. 104. 203/3 Men’s gymnasium shoes… Men’s low cut canvas pumps, canvas sole, [etc.].
1908 Sears, Roebuck Catal. No. 117. 813/2 A dainty pump of patent coltskin, much in favour with fashionable women.
1946 Sun (Baltimore) 2 Nov. 3 (advt.) Two flattering styles to choose from—black suede anklet…and classic black suede sling pump—both mounted on black faille platforms.
1967 Oxf. Mag. 10 Feb. 205/2 Informed by a girl that she has to wear pumps (court shoes) for her Convocation (degree ceremony) [in Canada].
1974 P. Wright Lang. Brit. Industry ii. 28 For rubber-soled canvas shoes we have pumps, plimsolls, gym-shoes and squeakers.
1978 J. Krantz Scruples vii. 191 Wells Cope, wearing a Dorso sweater, pale beige twill trousers, and black velvet evening pumps embroidered in gold, sat with Harriet.
1994 Wedding & Home June 169/1 (advt.) A lovely collection from simple satin pumps to pretty Edwardian bootees.
2006 Times (Nexis) 18 May (Features section) 8 Fashionable revellers…reinventing themselves as Bright Young Things such as Evelyn Waugh would have recognised, patent dancing pumps to boot.


Thanks for the research. Confirms pump = flat or low-heeled shoe, perhaps depending on which side of the pond you occupy. But still not high-heeled shoe, I think.


Trying not to stare at the clovage…