Have you ever fallen in love with a word at first sight?  A word that leaps from the page or tickles your ear? 

I must confess. I have a crush on the word “winklepicker.” 

As if the word’s light-hearted clicking in your mouth were not enough, just take a gander at an actual winklepicker:

source: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/winklepickers-0015435

You can choose an old-school winklepicker:

source: https://gucinari.co.uk/shoes/boots/the-history-of-winklepickers/


To me, the winklepicker’s personality walks a fine line between comedian and villain.

source: https://www.gettyimages.ca/photos/winklepicker-shoes


How could you not be intrigued by a shoe with that imagination, that wit, that je ne sais quoi?

source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Renaud_de_montauban_banquet.jpg, public domain


Beyond its zany frivolity, the winklepicker serves a function as well.  The name came from the notion that the winklepicker’s pointy toe might be used to pick a winkle (or periwinkle, a small mollusk) from its shell.

source: https://www.climatewatch.org.au/species/marine/blue-periwinkle


The highly-stylized curled winklepicker (as might be worn by a jester) nullifies function and embraces pure form.

source: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/winklepicker

Of course, things can be taken to an extreme.

source: Mexican Pointy Boots - VICE Video: Documentaries, Films, News Videos


I leave you with a brief winklepicking poem …




I wink. I pick.

I winklepick.


I kick a winkle with my toe.

He twinkles in the foamy flow.


I wink at him – he seems to know.

I’ll pick you, winkle, with my toe.


I winklepick, and I watch him go –

stolen by a stealthy crow.


(c) Tracey Kiff-Judson, 2024


Please visit the delightful Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise for some wonderful clunkers and this week's Poetry Friday fiesta!  Want to learn more about Poetry Friday?  Check out Renee LaTulippe's post.


  • Absolutely brilliant! LOL. I've never heard this word and yet at 5:39 am as I read this I am giggling...but then delighted to learn that it's a real thing! This must be the beginning of a new collection about wild and wonderful shoes through history, please! We need this book in middle school. The kids will fall over laughing at winklepicker for sure. 
  • I do know wrinkles, so I at first wondered if the word connected to them; what a laugh, Tracey, and what joy designers bring when we view their creations! I love that you wrote about them, and included "a stealthy crow"! 
    • Linda, there used to be a shoe store in Boston, maybe it is still there, John Fluevog Shoes.  I love every single pair in that store.  They are colorful, chunky, and funky!  They look like they are all from Alice in Wonderland.  I even tried on a few pairs, but sadly, they were not a good fit.  I like to go into the store and just look at the designs!
  • I had never heard of (much less seen!) a winklepicker. The photos are crazy! Your poem is quite entertaining- so much fun with wordplay! How do you think of these funny and unique things?!  With that stealthy crow at the end, it made me think of Amy Ludwig VanDerWater and her crow poems during April- I hope she sees this poem!
  • This is so utterly delightful. You have a voice that makes me want to listen, witty and serious if there is such a personality. I've never heard of a winklepicker but I will not soon forget those images! And your poem is pure fun! 
  • "Winklepicker" is a funny word, for sure! A funny word for a funny shoe. Good job with your poetic take on it!
  • I love saying it but love reading your poem even more, Tracey! So creative! It really should become a picture book!
  • Some words just demand to be picked up and appreciated, Tracey. Winklepicker is certainly one of those words. I love the images you shared. i wore winklepickers during my teenage years, but they were not as outrageous as some of these. Your poem offers a feast of wonderful sounds and images. Wonderful, wonderful word.

    Edited on Saturday, 11 May 2024 00:18 by Alan j Wright.
    • Yay, Alan!! I love that you wore winklepickers!!! That makes me so happy! Yes, these examples do tend toward the extreme.
  • This post has all kinds of awesome, Tracey: lexicology, fashion, history, science, poetry! I agree with the others, there is a book to be written here. Well done! :)
  • So much fun, Tracey! I never heard the word before, either. I hope it's one of those that you keep hearing once you are introduced to it. Fun to hear and say.
  • Weird words are my love language! This is SO fun! And your poem is spot on! It made me laugh out loud. 

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