Why Are Socks Called Socks


Whether you’re getting ready for a long day at work, preparing for a workout, or simply lounging around the house, socks are an integral part of our everyday attire. Their primary function is simple yet essential—providing comfort and protection for our feet. But have you ever stopped to wonder why socks are called ‘socks’? This seemingly mundane item of clothing has a history as rich and varied as the patterns and designs they come in today. This blog post will explore the intriguing origins of the word ‘sock,’ shedding light on the part of our daily life that we often take for granted.

The Origin of Socks

From ancient Greece’s chilly winters to the Middle East’s sandy deserts, humans have long sought ways to protect their feet from the elements. The history of socks dates back to the 8th century BC, with the earliest versions being quite different from the comfortable fabric foot coverings we’re familiar with today.

Made from matted animal hair or woven fabrics, these early socks served the basic yet vital purpose of providing warmth and preventing chafing. As civilizations evolved, so did the materials used for sock-making. The Romans wrapped their feet in strips of leather or fabric, while the Egyptians knitted their socks using plant fibers. It’s fascinating to see how these early materials and techniques have evolved over time, shaping the socks we know and love today.

animal hair

Why Are They Called ‘Socks’?

The term ‘sock’ has an interesting etymological history. It originates from the Latin word ‘soccus’, which referred to a loose-fitting slipper worn by Roman comic actors. Over time, the term migrated to Old English as ‘socc’, meaning a ‘light slipper’. This word was derived from the Ancient Greek word ‘sykchos’, used to describe the light footwear worn by Greek actors.

As centuries rolled on, this term evolved and broadened to encompass a variety of foot coverings. By the Middle Ages, the term ‘sock’ was used in English to describe the common item of hosiery we’re familiar with today. This linguistic evolution mirrors the development of the sock itself, from a simple foot covering to an essential part of our wardrobe, reflecting our personal style, and sometimes, even our whimsy.

Different Types of Socks

There is a wide variety of sock types available today, each with a unique name and purpose.

  • Ankle socks, or low-cut socks, barely rise above the shoe line and are ideal for casual or athletic wear.
  • Crew socks, one of the most common variations, reach up to the mid-calf and are usually worn with boots or sneakers for physical activities.
  • Knee-high socks, as the name suggests, go all the way up to the knee and are popular in school uniforms and certain sports like soccer.
  • No-show socks, or invisible socks, are designed to be concealed inside the shoe and are a popular choice for loafers or low-cut shoes.
  • Over-the-knee socks extend beyond the knee and are typically worn for fashion or warmth in colder climates.
  • Tube socks are leg-length socks without a defined heel, offering more flexibility in sizing.

The names of the socks typically describe their length or their use, making it easier for consumers to identify and choose the correct sock type for their needs. This simple and practical naming system has evolved over time, just like the socks themselves.

long football socks

Fun Facts About Socks

  1. Origin: The earliest known pair of socks, made from animal skins gathered up and tied around the ankles, dates back to the 8th Century BC.
  2. Sock Etymology: The English word ‘sock’ comes from the Latin word ‘soccus,’ a term used to describe a light, low-heeled shoe worn by Roman comic actors.
  3. In Space: Astronauts wear specially designed socks, which help to keep their feet healthy in the microgravity environment of spacecraft. Find out more about the unique development of an astronaut’s socks.
  4. World’s Most Expensive Socks: The world’s most expensive socks can cost hundreds of dollars. They are usually made from the rare wool of the Peruvian Vicuna.
  5. Sock Capital of the World: Despite the global production of socks, the city of Datang in Zhuji, China, also known as “Sock City,” produces an estimated 40 billion pairs of socks each year, which is about 80% of the world’s socks.
  6. Lost Socks Mystery: According to a study, the average person loses 1.3 socks each month, resulting in over 15 missing socks per year. This leads to the universal mystery of ‘where do all the missing socks go?’

These fun facts highlight the ubiquitous nature of socks in our history, culture, and daily lives. It’s also a testament to the evolution and innovation in the sock industry, which continuously adapts to our changing needs and preferences.


In conclusion, though seemingly trivial, socks have a rich history and a substantial impact on our daily lives. From their humble beginnings as animal skins tied around the ankles in the 8th Century BC to their evolution into an essential wardrobe item produced in massive quantities in today’s “Sock City,” they have truly come a long way.

The varying designs and material innovations, including the creation of socks for astronauts and those made from the wool of the Peruvian Vicuna, speak volumes about the dynamism and adaptability in the sock industry. However, despite all these advancements, the mystery of disappearing socks remains unsolved. As we put on our socks each day, let’s take a moment to appreciate this often-overlooked but integral part of our lives.

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