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Galosh
Posted: 06 April 2014 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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From OED:

galosh, n.

1 b. In later use: An over-shoe (now usually made of india-rubber) worn to protect the ordinary shoe from wet or dirt. ‘Rare in U.S.’ ( Cent. Dict.).

Whoa! I thought this was the common American term for what we usually call wellington boots, wellingtons or wellies. Just what do you call them?

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Posted: 06 April 2014 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It used to be pretty common in the US in my experience.  Usually in the plural.  Don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone referring to a galosh, at least not seriously.  It was always galoshes.

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Posted: 06 April 2014 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Presumably there would not be many occasions when you would have to refer to one of them, but when you do, what are you going to call it other than a galosh? “Mama, I lost a galosh.”

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Posted: 06 April 2014 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Note the OED entry is from 1898 and the statement about its being rare in the US is from the Century Dictionary, about ten years before that. Presuming the Century Dictionary was correct, then the word has undoubtedly become much more common in the US since.

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Posted: 06 April 2014 07:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The obvious follow-up question is just what would an American have called such a boot in the 19th century. In other words what term did galoshes replace?

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Posted: 06 April 2014 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve never heard an American refer to rubber boots as “galoshes”. “Rubber boots”, yes. Live and learn....... As for the objects which Britons call “Galoshes”, I’ve always thought Americans called them “overshoes”. The French word galoche, and the Spanish galocha, refer to wooden clogs, used for walking in mud. I don’t see why “galosh” (singular) should be any less usual than “shoe”.

A friend of mine, who lived in Romania during the Communist regime, told me that the condoms (of Soviet Russian manufacture) that were available at that time, were referred to in common parlance as “galoshes”.

There was an old man of Cape Horn
Who wished he had never been born.
He wouldn’t have been,
If his daddy had seen
That the end of his [galosh]* was torn.

* rubber here improves the scansion. India-rubber doesn’t.

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Posted: 06 April 2014 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Faldage - 06 April 2014 02:30 PM

It used to be pretty common in the US in my experience.  Usually in the plural.  Don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone referring to a galosh, at least not seriously.  It was always galoshes.

I agree, as are shoes, boots, gloves, trousers etc. (although trousers can be referred to in the singular, trouser)

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Posted: 07 April 2014 12:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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On a slightly different tack: in my middle-class English upbringing (I was born in 1956) wellington boots were always known as gumboots; everybody I ever knew in an extremely muddy upbringing (between Northampton and Bedford, where the southernmost kick of the last Ice Age deposited an impermeable layer of yellow boulder clay over the landscape) called them that. And according to the wiki entry for ‘wellington boot’, this is still the standard term in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and known in the USA also. 

But now I find British people stare at me in baffled amusement if I absent-mindedly use the word gumboots, since the apparently universal name here is now wellies. Has any other Rightpondian here used or heard gumboots in the last, say, two decades?

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Posted: 07 April 2014 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Also born in the UK in 1956. My parents were both Scots but my school years were in Kent. Rubber boots were always wellingtons to us. I don’t remember when they started to get shortened to wellies, but that’s what I generally call them now. I knew and understood gum-boots as an alternative name, but don’t recall any of my contemporaries at school using it.

My mother’s family, all from Aberdeenshire, called them baltics. The hypothesis was that the term was transferred from a variety of waterproof leather sea boots, but I’ve never been able to verify that.

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Posted: 07 April 2014 01:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Logophile - 06 April 2014 10:33 PM

Faldage - 06 April 2014 02:30 PM
It used to be pretty common in the US in my experience.  Usually in the plural.  Don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone referring to a galosh, at least not seriously.  It was always galoshes.

I agree, as are shoes, boots, gloves, trousers etc. (although trousers can be referred to in the singular, trouser)

Eh? So you’ve never heard someone refer to a shoe, a boot, a glove…

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Posted: 07 April 2014 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Presumably there would not be many occasions when you would have to refer to one of them, but when you do, what are you going to call it other than a galosh? “Mama, I lost a galosh.”

“I lost one of my galoshes” would be far more idiomatic.

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Posted: 07 April 2014 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Interesting. I am struggling to think of another example of an item that can clearly exist as a single object but would only be spoken of as part of a set expressed in plural.

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Posted: 07 April 2014 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Cattle is the only other example that comes quickly to mind.  Not quite the same, in that it doesn’t look like a regularly formed plural, as galoshes does.

[ Edited: 07 April 2014 09:29 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 07 April 2014 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I recall the legal definition of chambers was once put forth as an example.

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Posted: 07 April 2014 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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In my youth in the 1960s galoshes were transparent plastic shoes that fitted over your normal shoes not higher than one’s ankles. Wellies were worn over socks. I know gumboots but have never used the word.

Regarding plurals, as I might have said, about 30 years ago in Frankfurt I was walking down a street with a black American G.I. and he remarked of a lady “nice chests” cf. rack and bosom.

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Posted: 07 April 2014 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Sorry to harp on this…

You’re walking down the road. You find a waterproof shoe-cover. How are you going to tell the missus about it?

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