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Definition: lightweight casual shoes with moulded rubber soles and uppers constructed from a mix of nylon mesh, suede and leather. Usually lace-up, but sometimes elasticated, Velcro-fastened, or slides.

'Trainers' is the name we English give to sneakers or running shoes – the name itself presumably being rooted in the phrase 'training shoes'. Originally intended for athletes, fashion took hold of the humble trainer and catapulted it into the mainstream. Now there are any number of brands and styles available: smart trainers, scruffy trainers, heeled trainers, platform trainers, wedge trainers, and trainers with flashing lights in the heel that were all the rage in the mid-nineties. You can even buy trainers with built-in fold-down wheels in the soles, so that you can flip them out and roll along as if you're wearing roller-skates.

They range from the very cheap (fake brand name) to ridiculously expensive (real brand name), and make exceedingly comfortable footwear. I am always reluctant to part with a trusty pair of trainers, as over the years they tend to gradually mould themselves to the shape of your feet. Only when bits begin to fall off the shoe do I consider it time to buy a new pair.

Known also in different parts of North America as 'tennis shoes' or 'runners' (Canada), and in regions of the United Kingdom sometimes as 'pumps', 'plimsolls' and 'daps'.



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