A “trainers” with an asterisk

Today’s New York Times has a fashion article titled, “Sneakers: Where Can’t They Go?” It’s about the trend of wearing sneakers in formal setting. You can already see one of the literary challenges faced by the writer of the article, Susan Joy: trying to avoid writing the word “sneakers” too many times. Joy, regrettably, was not fully up to the challenge. The brief article contains eighteen sneakerses, plus one in the title and one in a photo caption.

But she does make a couple of efforts to avoid the word, as in this sentence: “A quick scroll through the street-style blogs yields scores of shots of fashionable women looking confident and cool in their high-tech trainers and multicolor mash-ups.”

A couple of years ago, I promoted trainers from “Outliers” status to “On the Radar.” Roy’s use of it, being so obviously by way of avoiding writing “sneakers” yet again, is not enough to convince me to elevate the word to full-fledged NOOB.


16 thoughts on “A “trainers” with an asterisk

  1. I’ll bet she dug out “trainers” because she falls into the alliteration trap — oh my, that’s catchy!

  2. I doubt it will catch on since trainers is such common parlance here for the people paid to keep other people fit. What do they call personal trainers in the UK to avoid confusion with “trainers” for the feet?

    1. We call personal trainers “personal trainers”. It’s like “dog trainers” or “horse trainers” – you will always specify what’s being trained or what the training involves. If you only referred to someone as being a “trainer” people wouldn’t know what sort of trainer you meant.

  3. Never mind running shores, how about plimsolls? And I knew a South African woman at university who called them “tackies”.

  4. sand shoes, runners, joggers.

    I always think plimsolls are “deck shoes” – not something to wear to the gym.

  5. Before the era of trainers, we used to have those canvas shoes with a rubber corrugated sole which were called gym shoes, tennis shoes, PE shoes, running shoes or plimsolls etc.

    PE in England is Physical Exercise (as in PE class in school).

    1. Sammy, we had gym. Hateful hateful class in which I could never climb the rope, no matter what shoes I had on.

    2. Oooh! “Gym shoes”!! Yess! Way back machine went to work and remembered gym shoes. That predates running shoes, I think.

  6. How could she fail at finding sufficient synonyms for a thing that has its own entry on the Harvard Dialect Survey?!
    (P.S. They’re called “tennies” (also “kicks” in New York)

  7. “Sneakers” fails purely in terms of how the footwear is actually used. Though often worn as leisure wear, training shoes/trainers are still frequently used when training, or exercising. I believe only a small section of society does any actual sneaking in them.

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