Tenny Runners (tennis shoes) (1965)

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Fri Sep 22 18:31:20 UTC 2006

The guy next to me at this computer is wearing plimpsoles, I'm pretty sure.

I think we published a piece on this in American Speech about 1985.

-----Original Message-----
From: zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sent: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 3.27PM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Tenny Runners (tennis shoes) (1965)

On Sep 21, 2006, at 11:12 PM, Barry Popik wrote:

> Any DARE entry for "tenny runners"?
> ...
> (http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/
> tenny_runners_or_tennie_runners/)
> ...
> Tenny Runners (or Tennie Runners)
> Tenny (or tennie) runners are tennis shoes. The term is said to be
> used in
> Texas, but is also popular in many other states...

looks pretty widespread, so possibly not really regional.

the terms for athletic shoes vary a great deal from place to place
and social group to social group, and they change fairly rapidly as
lexical fashions sweep over young people. "sneakers" was the
standard term in my youth, but seems to be rarely used by young
people today. in any case, the wikipedia entry for "athletic shoe"
  sport shoe
  running shoe
  gym shoe
  tennis shoes
  sneakers (American English)
  trainers (British English)
  kicks (slang "in some urban areas in the United States")
  runners (Canadian English, Hiberno-English)
  takkies (South African English)

"sneaker" in the relevant sense is in OED2 as "orig. and chiefly
U.S." (though there are cites from Wodehouse, the Manchester
Guardian, and the Sunday Express). apparently not regional.

there are a fair number of webhits for "sneaks" in this sense. (also
in OED2 under "sneak" n.)

"tennies" is in OED2 as "U.S. colloq.", with cites from 1969 through
1980. plenty of webhits. Lands' End offers "kids' skate tennies",
for instance. it doesn't seem to be regional.

"runners" is in the 1993 additions to the OED, marked as "Austral.
colloq.", with cites suggesting that in the 1970s and 80s it was
spreading throughout Oz. ("sand shoes" is cited as the then-general
term down under.) my impression is that it now has some u.s. use,
but i might just have heard it from canadian friends. not easy to
search for, alas.

in any case, "tenny runners" (or "tennie runners") combines the last
two of these.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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