When people talk about feet, they generally mean feet in the context of clothing: they’re the areas where you could usually wear shoes. But when you put feet on a photo, it takes on a more abstract kind of meaning.
Take a couple of the classic pictures of the foot and the shoe. There are those iconic examples like Mary Poppins, of course, and the aforementioned “The Kid Who Left Home Alone” by the same photographer, Thomas Nast.
Here’s the kid in Nast’s:
And the photo of Michael Jordan, a few years later:
There’s something about the foot in these photos. You can almost almost feel the weight of the player in the shoes, and the player’s weight in the photo. It’s a sense of realness to the player. A realness that makes his presence on the court feel a lot more real. That’s almost what the foot in those pictures does, in a way.
So what’s it been called?
If you go to the Dictionary.com site, the word feet is listed as “foot”.
They write in a statement:
The term feet became popular in English in the late 19th century, when it referred largely to children’s clothing. Its sense of “feet, footwear, or equipment” has come into common use in American English in the last hundred years.
They cite a variety of factors, including the adoption of the metric metric system, the Americanization of certain word origins, and the increasing prominence of the term in other countries. This last influence has made it more widely used in the United States than any other time since it was invented in the late 1800s. A more recent influence came in the form of the English language itself. Because English is a living tongue, its vocabulary has been growing continually through the centuries. Thus the adoption of the metric system of measurement—not only in the United States but also in parts of Europe and the United Kingdom—has had a profound influence on American English, causing it to become a metric language.
So feet are a thing that has changed over time?
It’s hard to say. The dictionary website lists several definitions for “feet”. The simplest one is “foot in footwear”: “footgear”. Another explanation of the definition is “a type of footwear typically worn by children”, while a third takes it further (and includes a footnote from a friend of mine), saying that while “feet in footwear”
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