galoshes and rubbers and overshoes, oh my

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Jun 7 17:34:52 UTC 2012

I too learned "galoshes" from my parents (NYC).  Despite the OED's
(weaselly?) punt to another authority: "'Rare in U.S.' (Cent. Dict.)".

"Overshoes" is not in my native vocabulary.

Does anyone besides me associate "rubbers" with ankle-height and
"galoshes" with something more like boots?  Curiously, the earliest
quotation in the OED for "rubbers" (s.v. "rubber, n.1", sense 14) is:

1834   Daily Atlas (Boston, Mass.) 14 Oct. (advt.)    Boots, shoes,
and rubbers.

Although the advt. doesn't say whether the distinction is height or material.

And Totes plays it safe:  "Men's Waterproof Storm Rubber Overshoe
Galoshes Black by Waterproof Rubber Overshoe Galoshe".  (As seen on , item 5.)  To me,the object
pictured is one "rubber".


At 6/7/2012 09:20 AM, Amy West wrote:
>On 6/7/12 12:01 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
>>Date:    Wed, 6 Jun 2012 22:50:17 -0400
>>From:    Wilson Gray<hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>>Subject: Re: "basket house"
>>On Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM, Ben Zimmer
>><bgzimmer at>  wrote:
>>> >  the odd Briticism "overshoes"
>>that's even in BE and, perhaps, other forms of Southern English. But,
>>pf course, the headline-writer ought to have used standard_rubbers_.
>>Not everyone is familiar with regional and other non-standard terms:
>>_Trying the Economic Rubbers on Different Feet_
>As always, I'm a "me-too": both American parents -- one from each coast
>-- called 'em "overshoes" and I still have a pair of overshoes. Doesn't
>strike me as a Britishism, and 'tain't labeled as such in MWC11.
>"Galoshes" isn't labeled either (which is the older term,
>interestingly). Now that I think of it, I think my mother (Bostonian)
>favored "galoshes" over "overshoes." She would use "overshoes" when I
>gave her a funny look about "galoshes."
>---Amy West
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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