Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shoe n.

1. the debtors’ ward in Newgate prison [those incarcerated begged by letting down a shoe from the window].

[UK]A. Griffiths Chronicles of Newgate 267: The debtors’ ward [...] was called the ‘shew,’ because the debtors begged by letting down a shoe from the window.

2. (US Und.) a private detective [abbr. gumshoe n. (1)].

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

3. a tyre.

[US]C.T. Clark diary 17 Mar. in Soldier Letters (1919) 75: I had a flat front tire, and [...] went out to fix it. No sooner had I gotten over to the car, than they started coming over. [...] I was pretty well shaken up, and was thankful when I had put the new shoe on.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 54: Halfways across we get a blowout. I jump out to help Spence change the shoe.

4. (US black) a black person.

[US]‘Digg Mee’ ‘Observation Post’ in N.Y. Age 18 Oct. 9/6: [of women] It’s hard to find ‘shoes‘ that haven’t been worn [...] Glimpsed Stan Ames and Mel Crews at the Lodge with two ‘old shoes’.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 65: This whole goddamn life is just so much bullshit if you’re a shoe in this lousy, fuckin’ country.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 159: When you’re born a shoe, yuh stays a shoe.

5. (Aus.) a sanitary towel.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1056/1: since late 1940s.

6. (orig. US black) a smartly dressed person, by ext. one who is smart, sophisticated [orig. jazz use; the quality of the subject’s footwear].

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS 469/1: [...] usu. in the expression ‘He’s a real shoe’ c. 1955.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

shoedog (n.)

(US) a shoe salesman.

Grenville News (SC) 9 Nov. 4/7: ‘Do you know that a shoe-dog / Has an awful trying job — / When he tries to sell footear / To a selfish howling mob.
[US]Harper’s Mag. 174 108: On a famous Friday one shoe dog surpassed all records by selling arch-supporters to sixty per cent of the customers [...] The average shoe dog takes pride in his ability to fit quickly.
[US]S. Bellow Augie March (1996) 127: And then I became a shoe-dog myself.
R. Lemon Troubled American n.p.: I’m just a shoe dog, [...] I’ve been peddling shoes all my life.
[US]George Pelecanos [title] Shoedog.
S.G. Bloom Inside the Writer’s Mind 76: The old man was a shoe-dog. His domain was a little shoe store in an industrial town.
L. Gutkind Truckin’ with Sam 132: His attempts at intimacy were awkward, but he caressed his customer's feet—which made him a natural as a ‘shoe dog’.
[US]Chicago Trib. 5 June 4/7: ‘Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike.
shoe-leather (adj.)

ground-level, unglamourous, physically demanding.

[US]A.C. Shepard Woodward and Bernstein 77: The book could illustrate the hard work involved in shoe-leather reporting.
shoemaker’s pride (n.) [new leather shoes often creak, thus drawing attention to the maker’s handiwork]

creaking shoes or boots.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
shoemaker’s stocks (n.)

tight shoes; thus in the shoemaker’s stocks, wearing tight shoes.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Shoe-makers-stocks pincht with strait Shoes.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Shoemaker’s stocks. New, or strait shoes. I was in the shoemaker’s stocks; i.e. had on a new pair of shoes that were too small for me.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[Scot]Perthshire Courier 21 Jan. 4/6: The old proverb is, getting out of the ‘shoemaker’s stocks’ [...] and a better fate commences [for] the feet.
Western Courier 3 July 1/5: Pretty little feet should not be distorted by the ‘shoemaker’s stocks’.
shoe thief (n.)

(US Und.) a petty thief.

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 213: shoe thief, n. – a petty thief.

In phrases

buy the baby (new) shoes (v.)

(US) to act in a purposeful manner.

[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 68: Hell! This wasn’t buying the baby any shoes; this wasn’t getting his spiel done.
L. Simpson Lady and Travelling Salesman 60: ‘This won’t buy the baby new shoes, eh Harry?’ ‘I’m all behind,’ Merryweather said.
C. Dale Sheep’s Clothing 267: Well, all this talking won’t buy the baby new shoes. I’d best get on with things.
S. Daniels Beside Herself 13: Well, this won’t buy the baby new shoes. I’d better get the Hoover.
die in (one’s) shoes (v.) (also die with one’s shoes on)

to be hanged.

[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Rabelais IV xlv: Whoever refused to do this should presently swing for it and die in his shoes.
[UK] ‘Reading Skirmish’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 375: They call a thing a Three-Legged Mare; / where they will fit each Neck with a Noose; / Then with our Beads to say our last Prayer, / after all this to Dye in our Shooes.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Die like a Dog, to be hang’d . . . Die on a Fish-day, or in his shoes, the same.
A. Smith Memoirs of... Jonathan Wild 19: That precious Knot! which made the precious Noose, / When Jonathan [Wild] for haste, dy’d in his Shoes.
Branston in Walpole Letters to Mann 1(1833) 180: At the end of the walk hung a rogue on a gibbet! He beheld it and wept, for it caus’d him to muse on Full many a Campbell, that died with his shoes on [F&H].
[UK]R. North Lives of the Norths (1826) I 4: He used to say George (his son) ‘would die in his shoes’.
[UK]Cambridge Chron. 28 July 2/4: When the rope was adjusted round his neck [...] he threw his shoes from off his feet [...] in consequence of a vulgar expression [...] ‘that he will die with his shoes on’.
[UK]R. Barham ‘The Execution’ in Ingoldsby Legends (1840) 301: There is M’Fuze, / And Lieutenant Tregooze, / And there is Sir Carnaby Jenks of the Blues, / All come to see a man ‘die in his shoes!’.
[[Scot]Fife Herald 10 Jan. 2/4: But for his cowardice, there would have been occasion to pray that he might die ‘without his shoes’].
[UK]Manchester Times 15 Sept. 5/2: ‘He always said he should come to die with his — shoes on for my sake’.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 287: Shoes ‘to die in one’s shoes,’ to be hanged. In the old hanging days a highwayman would often kick off his shoes when the rope was round his neck, so as ? oh, vain and impotent attempt! ? to defeat the prophecy that had foreshadowed his present position.
[UK]Illus. London News 27 Jan. 87/1: Do you remember the old story of the lady whose husband was doomed to ‘die with his shoes on’.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 73: Shoes, ‘to die with one’s shoes on,’ to be hanged.
[UK]Bristol Mercury 28 Jan. 9/4: ‘As sure as I’m a livin’ woman, ye’ll die in yer shoes’.
[UK]Morpeth Herald 11 July 11/2: She became indignant [...] and concluded by wishing the sergeant would die with his shoes on.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 47: shoes, to die in one’s. To die by violence.
[UK]Leeds Mercury 18 Dec. 5/6: Rotherham [...] never ties his shoe laces so he will not die with his shoes on.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 64: The following crook’s words and phrases date from the days of the old Old Bailey: [...] to be hanged – die in shoes.
everlasting shoes (n.) (also everlasting boots)

the feet.

[UK]Sl. Dict. 156: Everlasting shoes, the feet. The barefooted children about Seven Dials, and other low quarters of London, are said to wear everlasting shoes and stockings. Another expression in connexion with this want is, ‘the shoes and stockings their mothers gave them.’.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 7 Dec. 1/3: A barefooted boy being. told he had ‘everlasting boots’ on, said he hoped, when he grew big he wouldn’t have to wear the same sort of stuff for pants.
[UK]C. Hindley Vocab. and Gloss. in True Hist. of Tom and Jerry.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Hully Dly Mail 13 Mar. 3/2: Most of the Arabs wear those everlasting shoes — bare feet.
get the shoes on (v.) [the drink ‘overflows’]

to become drunk.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 195: Shoes on, got the Drunk.
put the shoe on the right foot (v.)

to place blame where it duly belongs.

Athlone Sentinel 9 June 4/4: It is an unpleasing task to to blame those we so much delight to honour [...] I gladly pass to other topics, after thus stopping for a moment to ‘put the shoe on the right foot’.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Sussex Agric. Exp. 10 Sept. 2/5: People did not go to Church; this was not the fault of the parson, but because people did not want to. Let them put the shoe on the right foot.
Waterford Standard 15 Sept. 7/1: It is high time we got our own back. Put the shoe on the right foot.
shoe-leather (adj.)

(US) low in a hierarchy.

[US](con. 1963) L. Berney November Road 30: [T]his [i.e. the JFK assassination] wasn’t just another ho-hum murder, some shoe-leather wiseguy popped in a back alley.
that’s another pair of shoes

a phr. meaning that is another matter.

[UK]New Sporting Mag. Sept. 149: But that’s another pair of shoes, as we say in France, and I'll vip off, and talk to you about what consarnsus more closely .
[UK]R.S. Surtees Hillingdon Hall I 281: But that’s beside the question; another pair o’ shoes, as we say in France.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 197: Ah! that’s another pair of shoes altogether, as we say in France.
W.K. Wigram Five Hundred Pounds Reward 44: ‘Oh, if you dislike him,’ returned Mrs. Springletop, pretending to misunderstand, ‘that’s another pair of shoes altogether!’.
[UK]Gent’s Mag. 624: He’s all there, if that’ll ease their mind. But where he is — that’s another pair of shoes.
[US]H. Caine Christian 504: Ah, that’s another pair of shoes altogether, dear.
G. Fenn Ocean Cat’s Paw (2008) 59: ‘That’s another pair of shoes, as the Frenchies say,’ and the skipper went up on deck.
C. & A.M. Williamson It Happened in Egypt 97: I’m sincerely delighted to see you — for my own sake. For yours — well, that’s another pair of shoes!
J.B. Priestley I’ll Tell 151: That’s another pair of shoes altogether, as the sayin’ is.
W.V. Wilkins Seven Tempest 134: ‘W-hoy, that’s another pair of shoes . . . that’s another pair of shoes!’ As he spoke he shot a swift glance at Seven from under lowered eyelids .
with the shoes on

(US short order) of one’s food/drink purchase, takeaway.

[US] in Newark (OH) Advocate 21 May 3/3–4: with the shoes on -- order to be taken out.

In exclamations

shoe-leather! [i.e. get one’s shoe-leather (shoes) moving]

(UK Und.) a warning cry uttered by a thief to his confederate on sighting the police.

[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 30: shoe leather Said by thieves when any one is coming.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Australasian (Melbourne) 17 July 8/5: ‘Shoe leather!’ is to give warning.
[US]Dly Dispatch (Richmond, VA) 1 Nov. 3/3: ‘Shoe leather’ means someone approaches.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 72: Shoe Leather, a thief’s warning notice of some one coming.