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Socks being worn on feet
A hand knitted sock

A sock is an item of clothing worn on the feet. The foot is among the heaviest producers of sweat in the body, able to produce over a pint of perspiration per day.[1] Socks help to absorb this sweat and draw it to areas where air can evaporate the perspiration. In cold environments, socks decrease the risk of frostbite. Its name may have originated by the shoes worn by Roman comic actors called soccus in Latin. It was a slipper and fitted loosely so it could be taken off quickly.[citation needed]



12th-century cotton sock, found in Egypt. The knitter of this sock started work at the toe and then worked up towards the leg. The heel was made last and then attached to loops formed while knitting the leg. This practice allowed the heel to be easily replaced when it wore out.

Socks have evolved over the centuries from the earliest models which were made from animal skins gathered up and tied around the ankles. In the 8th century BC, the Ancient Greeks wore socks from matted animal hair for warmth. The Romans also wrapped their feet with leather or woven fabrics. By the 5th century AD, socks called ‘puttees’ were worn by holy people in Europe to symbolise purity. By 1,000 AD, socks became a symbol of wealth among the nobility. From the 16th century onwards, an ornamental design on the ankle or side of a sock has been called a clock.[2]

The invention of a knitting machine in 1589 meant that socks could be knitted six times faster than by hand. Nonetheless, knitting machines and hand knitters worked side by side until 1800.

The next revolution in sock production was the introduction of nylon in 1938. Until then socks were commonly made from silk, cotton and wool. Nylon was the start of blending two or more yarns in the production of socks, a process that still continues.


Socks can be created from a wide variety of materials. Some of these materials are cotton, wool, nylon, acrylic, polyester, olefins, (such as polypropylene), or spandex.[3] To get an increased level of softness other materials that might be used during the process can be silk, linen, cashmere, or mohair.[3] The color variety of sock choices can be any color that the designers intend to make the sock upon its creation. Sock 'coloring' can come in a wide range of colors. Sometimes art is also put onto socks to increase their appearance. Different sports generally brandish different sock colors and there are also sometimes each sock will have a different color (for some significance or another). Colored socks may be a key part of the uniforms for sports, allowing players teams to be distinguished when only their legs are clearly visible.


Rainbow striped toe socks worn with thong sandals

Socks are manufactured in a variety of lengths. Bare or ankle socks extend to the ankle or lower and are often worn casually or for athletic use. Bare socks are designed to create the look of "bare feet" when worn with shoes. Knee-high socks are sometimes associated with formal dress or as being part of a uniform, such as in sports or as part of a school's dress code or youth group uniform. Over-the-knee socks or socks that extend higher (thigh-high socks) are today considered female garments. They were widely worn by children, both boys and girls, during the late-19th and early-20th centuries., although the popularity varied widely from country to country.

A toe sock encases each toe individually the same way a finger is encased in a glove, while other socks have one compartment for the big toe and one for the rest, like a mitten; most notably Japanese tabi. Both of these allow one to wear flip-flops with the socks. Leg warmers, which are not typically socks, may be replaced with socks in cold climate.


Knee-high white socks, often worn as part of a school uniform

In the United Kingdom, a sock's size is similar to the person's shoe size; for example, a foot that has a shoe size of 9 would require a sock sized 8-10.

In some other parts of the world socks are sized differently than shoes. In the US numerical sock size is the length of the foot in inches, whereas shoe size is not.[4] Catherine Goodwin in 1998 averaged U.S. shoe size numbers from different manufacturers around the world and published a chart.[5]

Sock lengths vary, from ankle-high to thigh level.


For most sports, they will require some sort of sock, usually a tube sock to protect your legs from being scraped while participating in sport activities.

Other uses

The layer of leather or other material covering the insole of a shoe is also referred to as a sock. When only part of the insole is covered, leaving the forepart visible, this is known as a half-sock.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Howstuffworks "Why do feet stink?"". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  2. ^ "clock3". 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  3. ^ a b Selecting Socks, HYG-5544-01
  4. ^ "Sock Sizing". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  5. ^ "Shoe Size to Sock Size Chart". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  6. ^ "Half sock: Patent 6044497". 1998-08-17. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 

External links


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|right|Socks]] [[File:|thumb|200px|right|Toe socks]] Socks are often worn on a person's feet. They absorb sweat and help to keep the foot dry. Socks also give comfort to people's feet and keep them warm in cold weather. They are usually made of cotton or wool. Some socks can cover only the foot and ankle, and others may be long enough to cover the entire lower leg up to the knee. Toe socks are socks that wrap each toe separate from the others. Socks can be worn on the feet. Socks come in an array of different colors. Generally, white socks are worn for everyday or athletic use, and dark socks (black, brown, gray, or navy blue) are worn with busi ness or formal wears. Some dress socks have patterns on them; these are called "argyles".

Phone Socks

People often refer to sleeves that cover phones as 'socks'. These come in many different forms, colourful or plain. They help to protect the mobile phone whilst also being a stylish addition.

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