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1923 Sales Poster by Vladimir Mayakovsky.The text says Rainy rain, you cannot hurt me. I would not go out without galoshes. Because of Rezinotrest [Soviet rubber-industry trust] every place is dry for me. Sold everywhere.
1924 Sales Poster by Vladimir Mayakovsky.The text says Rezinotrest is your protector from rain and mud. Without galoshes Europe is bound to sit and weep.

Galoshes (from French: galoches), also known as boat shoes, dickersons, or overshoes, are a type of rubber boot that is slipped over shoes to keep them from getting muddy or wet. The word Galoshes might be used interchangeably with boot, especially a rubberized boot. Properly speaking, however, galoshes are synonymous with rain boots often reaching heights just below the knee.



The term may trace back to the Middle Ages, from the Gaulish shoe or gallicae. This shoe had a leather upper and a sole carved of wood. When the Romans conquered Gaul (France), they borrowed the Gaulish boot style. Nobles would wear a red leather boot with ornately carved wooden soles to display their station.

The term originally referred to wooden shoes or patten, or merely a wooden sole fastened to the foot by a strap or cord. Pattens were overshoes with tall, shaped wooden bases and mules or slippers into which one could slip their indoor shoes. In this respect, they could be considered similar to galoshes.

In Turkey they refer to a polythene overshoes which is worn temporarily when visiting homes or offices, to protect the floors from dirt from the outside.

"Goloshes" appears to be the older spelling of Galoshes used previously in Great Britain. The spelling perhaps changed around 1920 to the present-day spelling. A discussion took place in November 2007 on the Victoria Web Discussion group.[1][2][3]


In modern usage, it is an outer shoe worn in inclement weather to protect the inner one, and keep the feet dry. Galoshes are now almost universally made of rubber. In the bootmakers' trade, a "galosh" is the piece of leather, of a make stronger than, or different from that of the "uppers", which runs around the bottom part of a boot or shoe, just above the sole.

A more modern term for galoshes is overshoes. Overshoes have evolved in the past decades and now are being made with more advanced features such as high traction outsoles.

The transition from a traditional wooden sole to one of vulcanized rubber may be attributed to Charles Goodyear and Leverett Candee. The qualities of rubber, though fascinating to Goodyear, were highly dependent on temperature, tacky when hot, brittle when cold. Vulcanization of rubber tempered its properties so that it was easily molded, durable, and tough. A rubberized elastic webbing made Goodyear's galoshes (circa 1890) easy to pull on and off.

An unconfirmed legend states that an Englishman named Radley invented galoshes. He suffered from rheumatism and wanted to keep his feet dry. While reading De Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar he noticed a description of protective cloth overshoes "gallicae" and decided to capitalize on the idea. He patented cloth overshoes reinforced with rubber to keep the feet dry.

There are also records of a black inventor by the name of Alvin Longo Rickman, who received a patent for an overshoe in 1898.

There are two basic types. One is like an oversize shoe or low boot, made of thick rubber with a heavy sole and instep, designed for heavy-duty use. The other is of much thinner, more flexible material, more like a rubber slipper, designed solely for protection against the wet rather than for extensive walking.

In Russia, galoshes have been an indispensable attribute of valenki.

In the upper U.S. Midwest, school children know the black rubber, over-the-shoe boot as "four-buckle arctics".

In Quebec, they are called "claques". They were also used by the public, in the Ligue Nationale d'Improvisation LNI, to indicate discontent.

Galoshes in media

  • Gummo Marx, the fifth of the Marx brothers, who quit the act during the family's vaudeville days and thus never appeared in a Marx brothers film, was nicknamed by Art Fisher based on his habit of always wearing gumshoes. While all the other performers wore street shoes, and thus made a loud noise when they walked on a hardwood stage, Milton (Gummo) was known for startling people by appearing suddenly from out of nowhere, because the gumshoes on his feet gave him a nearly soundless footfall.
  • Hans Christian Andersen wrote a fairy tale The Goloshes of Fortune about magic galoshes which made every wish of their bearers true, but this often didn't bring them real fortune or happiness. There are children's movies based on this tale, The Magic Galoshes (Czechoslovakia | Austria | Germany, 1986) and Russian Galoshi schastya (Russian: Галоши счастья).
  • Scott Weiland's new solo is titled "Happy In Galoshes", which was released November 25
  • The Mighty Boosh refer to them as a joke in the 'Strange Tale of The Crack Fox' episode, series 3.

See also


  • Lawlor, Laurie. Where Will This Shoe Take You? A Walk Through the History of Footwear. New York: Walker and Company, 1996.
  • Moilliet, J. L., ed. Waterproofing and Water-Repellency. London: Elsevier Publishing Company, 1963.
  • O'Keefe, Linda. Shoes: A Celebration of Pumps, Sandals, Slippers, & More. New York: Workman Publishing, 1996.
  • Yue, Charlotte and David. Shoes: Their History in Words and Pictures. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.
  • Canizares, George. "Galosh Revolution." US Airways Attache (December 1998): 30.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

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