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wellingtons | wellies

British English

Meaning: knee-length waterproof boots made of rubber or plastic

For example:

  • Wear your wellies. It's raining outside.

  • Wellingtons are practical and fashionable footwear.

Note: also called gum boots

Origin: Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), the 1st Duke of Wellington, asked his shoemaker to redesign his military boots so that he could wear them more comfortably with a new style of trousers. Wellington's boots had no tassels and were cut without a strip at the top. They were made of calfskin. After Wellington's defeat of Napoleon, his boots became fashionable for men, and people began to call them "Wellington boots". When Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber, shoemakers started making the boots out of waterproof material. Wellingtons became more practical for farmers. In the First World War, soldiers wore wellingtons to keep their feet dry and prevent trench foot. Over time, wellingtons also became known as "wellies" for short.

Variety: This is typically used in British English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

What makes wellingtons so practical?

a. They never fall apart.

b. They are waterproof.

c. They are handmade.

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Contributor: Tara Benwell