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type of shoe, late 14c., from Old French sandale, from Latin sandalium "a slipper, sandal," from Greek sandalion, diminutive of sandalon "sandal," of unknown origin, perhaps from Persian. Related: Sandals.
type of footwear consisting of a sole secured to the foot by straps over the instep, toes, or ankle. The oldest known example of a sandal, dating from around 2000 BC, is made of woven papyrus and comes from Egypt. In ancient Egypt, only important personages wore sandals, which were made of leather or wood as well as papyrus. The ancient Greeks generally went barefoot indoors but out-of-doors wore sandals that had leather, matting, or felt soles with thongs that were tied in a variety of ways. Gilded sandals sometimes were worn by those of high rank, and women's sandals sometimes had ornamental pieces on the instep. Except for slaves, who were forbidden to wear them, the Romans generally wore sandals indoors. A variety of decoration and design was developed in Rome, where large guilds of shoemakers were established; patricians' sandals, for example, were red with a moon-shaped ornament on the back.