History of socks

OK, this may well be the most mundane and pointless question I’ve ever asked, but … who were the first people to wear socks?

This morning it was me. Everyone else was still asleep.

If man was meant to fly faster than the speed of sound he would have been born with 50,000 pounds of thrust.

Not to answer your question directly, but…

If you can find the book SOCKO! by Stephen Manes, I highly recommend it. Subtitle is: every riddle your feet will ever need.

A sampling:

How do rabbit’s feet say hello to their stockings?
What’s up, socks?

What disease gives you little red bumps on three of your toes?
Chicken socks

What’s the technical term for hoof and mouth disease?

What’s the goal of every ambitious foot?

What happened when the batter ran so fast his socks fell off?
Hose on first

Who’s the most famous foot philosopher?

… and so on

Most authorities agree it was the Anglo-Socksons . Other folks would say " Look, them anglos got their socks on." Whence the name. During really cold weather the ancient anglo- socksons would wear longer socks that covered their kness. Their country became known as Socksonknee. Many of them migrated to america where the formed an enclave on 5th avenue. There the would sell all sorts of clothing, not just socks. In the evening they would relax by playing jazz on curiously bent horns Still refered to as socksaphones. ( By the way didn’t that "ice man’ they found in northern italy have on socks? So I reckon they must be as old as him, socks that is. And I guess he musta been one of those anglosocksons too)

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

WOOOOOO Mr John is back!! Yehahaha. Where you been, dude?

Actually, sock wearing goes back a lot farther than the Soxsons. Some of the “human” footprints discovered in pre-cambrian rock layers were found to have the faint imprint of cloth decorated in a triangular pattern - scientists have dubbed this human precursor Homo Argylus.

ARGH!!I’LL get you for that Dex. I gonna hold up your nomination to the Order of the Garter! I been laying low ,dex. My puter been on the fritz. Fret, I don’t know who invented the sock. It is possible the sock is from another galaxay, " Socks of the Gods" I know they are always zapping singly from dimension to dimension thru the dryer portal. Maybe they goin back in time too and it is a circle what would happen if you went back in time and stole your grandfathers socks? It’s that old time travel Parasox. My admiration goes to the one who invented the nylon stocking.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

To answer the question, I have it on good authority that the word sock comes from a Greek word soccus for the light wieght slippers worn by comedy actors, as opposed to the big clunky shoes of tragedians. The name was eventually assigned to socks as we know them.

Hmm, that doesn’t actually answer the question. Damn.


What do Mexicans call their socks?

OK, I’ll stop now ::: bowing to the thundering applause :::

Ah yes, the old greek slap sock comedies, now there were some rockum sockum plays. SocUS sounds latin and just one too, a pair would be socci.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

Hmm. MrJ has apparently mistaken me for someone much older and wiser than I am.

Incidentally, after the invention of the spring-wound clock in Germany circa 1500, socks with a clock dial design became all the rage. Those social pariahs who refused to wear them became known as widdershins.

Most socks are knit, I believe; and I thought I read “somewhere” that knitting is actually a comparitively recent invention (middle ages?) If you count tights or hose as socks, then I’d say the 12th or 13th century.

I believe Judy Carnes was the first to say “SOCK it to me”, hence, from the numerous times she was socked…was the first…

…oh, never mind. This whole message socks.

Well if the OPer has not run screaming into the night, the EB claims

8th C BCE, Hesiod mentions piloi–matted fur as a shoe lining.

After years of wrapping their feet in leather or fur bindings, the Romans (2d C CE) begin to mention that they have been using fabric, felt, or skin udones to slip over their feet.

3d to 6th C CE, knit socks are discovered in Egyptian tombs.

The EB then relates this tragic story

Currently, the EB is not charging for use. Their web site is http://www.eb.com:195/ . Look up “hosiery.”


Back around the mid 1st Century BC, Caesar stole a march on the Gauls by marching his troops through the mountains in Southern France in the winter when they were thought to be impassable. Legionaries normally just wore lace up sandals but for this march Caesar had them lay in a supply of sox to prevent frostbite.

Lex Non Favet Delicatorum Votis

Well, I think Nickrz go with, at least, stockings, so he must also date from way back there sometime.

Haven’t heard much from the Socks at the White House since Buddy, Monica, Hilary and Al stole the show from him. Then there used to be that other fellow there. Can’t quite remember his name. Is Socks still a resident there? Or has he also packed his carpet bag and headed for Chappaqua?

Ray (This may all come out in the wash, but curiosity has never found the other sock.)

::groaning:: Y’know, I think in the FAQ should be a warning about posting a question about socks within cyber-distance of Dex. I certainly would have known better than to do that, as would any old reg from chat days!


Now, Melin, I think I was very restrained… although, it was quite a sockrifice.

OK, on the serious side (cough), Charles Panati in Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things attributes the origin of socks to 4th Century BC, Rome. I am quoting and paraphrasing liberally:

“The sock was a soft leather slipper worn by Roman women and effeminate men. Hose covered the leg but not the foot. The word ‘stocking’ does not appear in the vocabulary of dress until the sixteenth century, and its evolution up the leg from the foot took hundreds of years.”

Socks. Panati says that Greek women around 600 BC wore a low, soft sandal-like shoe that covered mainly the toes and heel, called a sykhos, but it was considered shameful for a man to wear such (and a gimmick of comic theatre.)

Roman woman copied the Greek sykhos and Latinized the name to soccus. It was worn by Roman mimes as comedy apparel.

The Anglo-Saxons (no comment, mr john, I said this was the serious response) shortened the name to soc and found that a soft soc worn inside a coarse boot protected the foot from abrasion. Similarly, in Germany, it was worn inside a boot and called socc.

Hose. In ancient times, men around the Mediterranean wore wrap-around skirts, having no need for leg protection. Further north, the Germanic tribes wore loose-fitting trousers reaching from waist to ankle and called heuse. Julius Caesar led his Roman legions in the conquest of Gaul, and protected his soldiers’ legs from weather and brambles by hosa – cloth leg coverings worn beneath the short military tunic.

One might have thought that leg hose stitched to ankle socks would have formed the new items, stockings… but not so.

Stockings. By 100 AD, the Romans had a cloth foot sock called an udo (plural udones); the earliest mention is by the poet Martialis, who wrote that in udones, the “feet will be able to take refuge in cloth made of goat’s hair.”

The udo fitted over the foot and shinbone. by about 100 years later, Roman tailors extended the udo up the leg to just above the knee, to be worn inside boots. They eventually crept up higher, to cover the thigh, and the stigma of effeminacy for men who wore them intensified.

By the fourth century (AD), the Church adopted above-the-knee stockings of white linen as part of a priest’s liturgical vestements. Fifth century mosaics show full-length stockings in vogue among clergy and laity, so the “effeminacy” context was gone by then.

William the Conquerer (1066, the other memorable date in British history) introduced form-fitting stockings (called “skin tights”) to England. The history thereafter is interesting and amusing, and I recommend Panati’s book to you.

So that’s how men came to wear stockings. How about women? Fashion historians are undecided, according to Panati, but believe that women wore stockings from about 600 AD. Because long gowns concealed legs, there is little evidence in paintings or illustrated manuscripts that women even had LEGS.

Among the earliest pictoral evidence of women in stockings is an illuminated manuscript of 1306, depicting a lady in her boudoir with a servant handing her one stocking; the other is already on her leg.
Chaucer comments that the Wife of Bath wore stockings “of fine skarlet redde.”

Nylon stockings appear on May 15, 1940, introduced by DuPont as a “miracle yarn” – major publicity gimmick. Nylon itself was invented in 1938 at DuPont.

OK, does that atone for my prior sins?

OOPS I gues it my small particle of brain that is on the fritz ( There is a fine anglosockson name) Got nick confused wif dex, don’t know which one of um should be most insulted. Well, i thought i posted another message but it be gone had some links to dictionary soccuss is latin for the foot covering of the greek comedians tragedians wore buskins. also found some links to sock monkeys. Furthur research reveals the sock was neither invented,created, nor evolved. It has ALWAYS been, A sock exits the present thru the dryer portal and appears in the past.How can this be that the sock has no beginning it is just a Time Parasox. Similar to the question “What would happen if you went back in time and stole your grandfather’s sox?” Which reminds me, do senior citizens still enjoy sox?

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx