posted by: Shomore in Shoe History Corner on July 11th, 2008
This Shoe History etymology factoid was first told to me by Paul, the designer of London Underground Shoes. Thanks Paul!
When I think of clogs, images of women dancing in wooden shoes or these Victor and Rolf clogs come to mind. However, I was recently tickled to learn that clogs have a deeper history and potentially helped coin another term in our language.
The story dates back to the Industrial Revolution. During this time, power machines were brought in replace artisans. Workers who were angry and worried that their occupations were being threatened, would toss their clogs (which in French are called sabots) into the machinery to clog and break them. Effectively they were engaging in industrial sabotage.
Still another story, from Wikipedia, is that the word sabotage “comes from the slang name for people living in rural areas who wore wooden shoes after city dwellers had begun wearing leather shoes; when employers wanted strikebreakers they would import ‘sabots’/rural workers to replace the strikers. Not used to machine-driven labor the ‘sabots’ worked poorly and slowly. The strikers would be called back to work (with demands won) and, could win demands on the job by working like their country cousins – the sabots.”
Authentic wooden clogs from Holland; Via StockPhotography