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Meaning of "Wellies" | British Slang

3 min read
20 January 2021

Noun, slang: A name for a pair of rain boots. Short for Wellington boots. Primarily used in the UK, but recognized in other countries.

Example: Don't forget to pack your wellies for the hike! It will probably be muddy.

Wellies are waterproof boots, most often made from rubber or a rubbery plastic. They are usually worn for walking on wet, muddy ground, such as during a big rain storm or during hikes.

While willies are usually up to knee-length, you can find shorter ones and they come in all colors and patterns.


History of the Wellington Boot:

Wellies were named after the Duke of Wellington, who had them created in the 18th century, by asking his shoemaker to modify another type of military boot called the Hessian boot. They were considered hard-wearing for battle and still comfortable enough for the evening. The boot was called the “Wellington” and has been known that way ever since!

The boots were considered quite fashionable, and patriotic British men were eager to show respect to Wellington, a war hero.

During World War II, the boots were in even more demand, and were required footwear for soldiers. The North British Rubber Company (now called Hunter Boot, and the maker of some of the most popular Wellies) was commissioned to make the boots for soldiers.


Wellies Today:

Nowadays, wellies are popular with both the fashion-conscious and the farming communities. You can find more understated green wellies, or pairs with stripes, flowers or even animal prints!

Wellies are easy to find in many other countries now, including Australia and New Zealand (where they’re mostly called “gummies”) and the US and Canada (where they’re just called rain boots).

In South Africa, there is even a type of dance involving wellies called the gumboot dance. 


Do you have a pair of wellies but no place to wear them? Pack them in your suitcase and join us for a trek through the Lake District.


It’s time to get planning!

Get ready for your life-changing trip with Kaplan. 


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