Slippers Vs Flip-flops ? (also: beach slippers vs thongs)

  • Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    I'd use "flip-flops." Flip-flops are a specific kind of open-toed footwear. They are usually some sort of plastic material and often have a thong-like piece that goes between the big toe and the second toe. They "flop" against the bottom of the foot when one walks in them. Slippers, on the other hand, are generally associated with night time footwear. They usually cover most of the foot, have little (if any) heel, and can be made of many materials. We talk about bedroom slippers or ballet slippers, but I have never heard of beach slippers.
     
    To confuse the matter, there are also mules (essentially, anything that has no heel, is an outdoor shoe but not a flip flop: from mule trainers to mule THINGS like that

    Some slippers are actually mule slippers while some are definitely not.

    And there are, of course, also, flip-flop slippers.

    I would like to know, though, whether most natives would consider these flip-flops. They are usually described as thong sandals.
     

    Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    They are usually described as thong sandals.
    It's a fine distinction, but I think that, in this case, thong sandals would be the best term. The placement of the foot strap is high enough that they wouldn't make the sound. Flip-flops is onomatopoeia. I think the term "thongs" was used in AE more commonly before it became the preferred word for a certain kind of underwear.;) I don't know anyone who uses the term "thongs" anymore.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    These labels are a confusion of physical description and functional description.
    You can confound that with the mixed use of the term slipper.

    As far as I know, you can rely on the term flip-flop to mean something that is very likely to make a flip-flop noise when you walk in it. It is somewhat loose-fitting and you could kick it off without any bother.
    It could be made of anything, but is typically synthetic.

    Slippers are generally worn about the home, and only there. They are comfortable and might even be whimsically-designed. Examples abound. They are not intended for outdoor use, or indeed for walking in.

    Sandals, on the other hand, or should I say foot, are specifically intended to be worn outside. Sandals are shoes with holes in.

    Back to the confusion about slippers.
    This may be a local phenomenon, but in addition to the above definition, this term is used here to refer to any lightweight footwear that is not definitely a shoe. So, for example, footwear for sports activities may be referred to as slippers. I think that you can probably forget this paragraph unless you are going to be talking footwear in Northern Ireland and wish to understand the small minority of locals who play tennis, for example, in tennis slippers. But who knows ...
     

    Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    I think that you can probably forget this paragraph unless you are going to be talking footwear in Northern Ireland and wish to understand the small minority of locals who play tennis, for example, in tennis slippers. But who knows ...
    Well, Pan, this should probably be a new thread, but I was intrigued by "tennis slippers." I never heard that one. We call tennis shoes "sneakers" or "sneaks" on the East Coast and I was surprised to hear that my friend on the West Coast never uses that term for athletic/tennis shoes/slippers.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    And in New Zealand, they wear Jandals.

    Jandals - from Japanese Sandals, it is actually a trademark of the Skellerup company, but has become a generic term for this type of rubber footwear.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    This may be a local phenomenon, but in addition to the above definition, this term is used here to refer to any lightweight footwear that is not definitely a shoe. So, for example, footwear for sports activities may be referred to as slippers. I think that you can probably forget this paragraph unless you are going to be talking footwear in Northern Ireland and wish to understand the small minority of locals who play tennis, for example, in tennis slippers. But who knows ...
    Interesting, I haven't heard of such usage down here. These are always known flip-flops in Ireland, slippers are what one wears around the house while thongs are different things entirely - usually reserved for the females amongst us.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    To add to the confusion, a couple of things:

    (1) Cinderella is said to have been given glass slippers (in one version of the fairy tale) by her fairy godmother. Things like this are called glass slippers - clearly to be worn out of the house as well.

    There are other kinds of ladies footwear that are similar - like 'beaded slippers'.

    And there are 'Japanese slippers' - which are flip flops with the straps coming together between the big toe and the next toe - which are worn, with socks, outside of the house

    (2) In this part of the world (Singapore, Malaysia), flip flops have traditionally been called slippers. For disambiguation, we also use the terms 'house slippers' and 'bedroom slippers'. But I'm conscious that this is local usage, and am careful about not using this term in this way to people from other places.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    And there are 'Japanese slippers' - which are flip flops with the straps coming together between the big toe and the next toe - which are worn, with socks, outside of the house
    In the name of completeness (of relevant terms OR degree of confusion :D )
    Those are known in Japan (and the large Japanese American community who speak English) as zori and the socks with special split toes to go with them are called tabi. Note that the "straps" are referred to as the thong.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    A good Australian friend of mine, living in England, still says "thongs" for sandals so I can confirm it is alive and well at least amongst the Australian expat community. As is "durex" for sellotape if memory serves.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In the name of completeness (of relevant terms OR degree of confusion :D )
    Those are known in Japan (and the large Japanese American community who speak English) as zori and the socks with special split toes to go with them are called tabi. Note that the "straps" are referred to as the thong.
    Many thanks, JS! I didn't know about those socks. Yes, thongs can also refer to straps, as in Mark 1.7:

    After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. (Revised Standard Version)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    To add another word to the mix, we also called them "zorries" in California when I was growing up (probably from the Japanese zori that JulianStuart mentioned), back in the dark ages. "Flip-flops" seems to me to be the most universal term. (I'm still curious what a "tennis slipper" looks like.)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thanks James.
    Just curious : does that mean the word had spread beyond the Japanese-American community or that you grew up with interactions with the community and picked up the word from them yourself? I think many of them don't speak (much) Japanese and would add an -s to pluralize (even though in Japanese they rarely pluralize) so I'd say it's the same word.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Thanks James.
    Just curious : does that mean the word had spread beyond the Japanese-American community or that you grew up with interactions with the community and picked up the word from them yourself? I think many of them don't speak (much) Japanese and would add an -s to pluralize (even though in Japanese they rarely pluralize) so I'd say it's the same word.
    It must have spread beyond the Japanese-American community. They were advertised as "zorries" in some places. Although I had a few Japanese-American friends when I grew up, that was not where I picked up the word. We had actual "zori" (with the straw mat where the foot went) sometimes but we also had thongs/flip-flops that we would call zorries. The words were used interchangeably.

    Here's a site that lists them as "zorries":

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.benfranklingifts.com/itemimg%255CO05%255C250x250%255C84630.JPG&imgrefurl=http://www.benfranklingifts.com/imageopen.asp%3FImgType%3Ditem%26Book%3DO05%26AdCode%3DPV%26AdPage%3D10%26MaxCol%3D2%26Mode%3DSimple&usg=__6sb1HQLEorXLisfKHZiyKgn4svg=&h=250&w=250&sz=13&hl=en&start=1&sig2=1bgU2ZqVeDVMSgUK5fyVQg&um=1&tbnid=gg_ym6VcmfFNOM:&tbnh=111&tbnw=111&prev=/images%3Fq%3DZorries%2Bad%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7SUNA_en%26um%3D1&ei=DfCOSrDDPKiQtAOko7mECw
     

    hwslippers

    New Member
    chinese
    hello,everyone

    in my opinion, Slippers contain Flip-flops .Flip-flops are beach slippers, In China, people usually ware them in summer.Our factory make Flip-flops ,so i know them that was made of plastic (EVA,PE,PVC)
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    hwslippers

    New Member
    chinese
    These labels are a confusion of physical description and functional description.
    You can confound that with the mixed use of the term slipper.

    As far as I know, you can rely on the term flip-flop to mean something that is very likely to make a flip-flop noise when you walk in it. It is somewhat loose-fitting and you could kick it off without any bother.
    It could be made of anything, but is typically synthetic.

    Slippers are generally worn about the home, and only there. They are comfortable and might even be whimsically-designed. Examples abound. They are not intended for outdoor use, or indeed for walking in.

    Sandals, on the other hand, or should I say foot, are specifically intended to be worn outside. Sandals are shoes with holes in.

    Back to the confusion about slippers.
    This may be a local phenomenon, but in addition to the above definition, this term is used here to refer to any lightweight footwear that is not definitely a shoe. So, for example, footwear for sports activities may be referred to as slippers. I think that you can probably forget this paragraph unless you are going to be talking footwear in Northern Ireland and wish to understand the small minority of locals who play tennis, for example, in tennis slippers. But who knows ...
    I agree
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Welcome to the forum.

    Shower shoes are meant specifically to be worn in the bathroom. The term "slippers" usually refers to casual footwear for use at home (but in some places has a wider meaning - see below).

    In this part of the world (Singapore, Malaysia), flip flops have traditionally been called slippers.
    The same here. The term "Slippers" here mean any open-toed footwear without a strap that goes around the heel.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    For what it's worth, shower shoes are what the US Marines call the basic rubber flip-flops they're issued in boot camp, no matter where they're worn – but they're often worn in the shower. I haven't heard anyone outside the service call them shower shoes.

    Here's a photo of a shower shoe, although probably civilian – ours were much thinner and cheaper and not a cool black. :)

    showershoe.jpg

    As for slippers, I think of them as close-toed slip-ons you wear around the house, often made of fabric (and sometimes fuzz).

    houseslippers.jpg
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi Haji and welcome.
    I haven't a clue what 'shower shoes' means. 'Slippers' means to me various styles of very casual footwear that one wears around the house.
     
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