New(?) names for open-toed shoes ...

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue May 13 04:34:00 UTC 2008

On Mon, May 12, 2008 at 11:28 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> At 4:32 PM -0400 5/12/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >... as they were known in my youth:
> >
> >Peek-toe shoes
> >
> >Peep-toe shoes
> any relation to peekytoe crab?  I haven't seen those on feet, but
> they do, show up on menus.

Came across "peekytoe crab" a while back in this article, which gives
a derivation:

Boston Globe, Aug. 2, 2006
Then about 25 years ago, Cancer irroratus (also known as bay or sand
or mud crabs) became peekytoe crab. The name is a spruced-up take on
picked toe -- the old Downeast slang for crabs, which refers to their
sharply pointed and inward- turning toes.

Though DARE and OED lack "peekytoe", they do have "picked" (pronounced
/pIkId/) 'sharp-pointed', esp. in New England. And speaking of shoes,
DARE surveys from 1966-69 found "picked /pIkId/ toed shoes"  as a
response to "nicknames for men's sharp-pointed shoes" in Maine and New
Hampshire. No connection to "peek-toe shoes" AFAICT, unless there was
some reanalysis along the way from pointedness to open-toedness.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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