C is for Cleats

Woo hoo! Today I learnt a new word! And that word is…


…which means using the word for part of something to describe all of something. Like calling my house a roof, just because it has a roof on it. Sounds daft? Well it would be it if I did that, but it doesn’t when it comes to cleats. You see I thought a cleat was what Americans call football boots. And it is. But the cleat is not the boot, it’s the only the stud. The name for the part has become the name for the whole – synecdochically 🙂

Here is a snippet from Wikipedia which I don’t think helps much but sounds great and very clever: “Synecdoche is a rhetorical trope and a type of figurative speech similar to metonymy—a figure of speech in which a term that denotes one thing is used to refer to a related thing. Indeed, synecdoche is sometimes considered a subclass of metonymy. It is more distantly related to other figures of speech, such as metaphor” Ahhh. That’s like soft porn for language lovers.

But back to the boots. Or studs. In an enormous turnaround, Child 1 has decided to take up American Football. In order to do so he needed football cleats, enormous things to go on the end of his enormous feet. Of course we’ve bought cleats before – for soccer (football), baseball and field hockey (hockey) but this is a family watershed so it’s time to that cleats got their blog-time.


I think these are the pair I bought for him at (wait for it British readers) Dick’s Sporting Goods. Please note that I am linking to their website here in case anyone in the UK thinks I’ve made this company up. Americans – know that there is no way you would see a shop called Dick’s on a UK high street.

Anyway, today I’ve learnt that the history of the football boot has been traced back to Henry VIII whose wardrobe list of 1526 includes 37 pairs of velvet shoes, two pairs of fencing shoes and a pair of football boots. Football back then was “a game of beastly fury and extreme violence” and not the ‘beautiful game’ that over here now gets called soccer.

But I don’t think the Tudor king had any studs (cleats) in his boots and from what I can discover trawling the internet, they didn’t have studs on football boots (soccer cleats) until the late 1890’s. Instead, it may be that the first sport to think of putting studs (cleats) on their players boots (cleats ;)) was baseball in the 1860’s. Here’s a photo from the 1870’s I found at the Baseball Hall of Fame.


But what’s this I find… Apparently the 1857 issue of The Golfer’s Manual – a Scottish publication no less! – advised players to create spikes in their shoes with short nails in order to give them better traction on the ground. Could golf be the sport that invented cleats? I wonder…



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