AskDefine | Define bootblack

Dictionary Definition

bootblack n : a person who polishes shoes and boots [syn: shoeblack]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A shoeshine boy; a person who shines shoes as an occupation.

Extensive Definition

Shoeshiner is a profession in which a person polishes shoes with shoe polish. They are often known as shoeshine boys because the job is traditionally that of a male child. While the role is deprecated in much of Western civilisation there are children that earn an important wage for their family in many countries throughout the world. Some shoeshiners offer extra services, such as shoe repairs and general tailoring. Many well-known and high profile people started their working life as shoeshiners, including singers and presidents.


Shoe polish was not well known as a commercial product until the early 20th century. Throughout the late 19th century shoeshine boys plied their trade on the streets, particularly those in the cities of the United Kingdom.

Modern profession

Portrayal in popular culture

Shoeshiners have featured in:


External links

bootblack in Spanish: Limpiabotas
bootblack in Polish: Pucybut
bootblack in Chinese: 擦鞋工

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ganymede, Hebe, airline hostess, airline stewardess, attendant, batman, bellboy, bellhop, bellman, boots, cabin boy, caddie, chore boy, copyboy, cupbearer, errand boy, errand girl, footboy, gofer, hostess, office boy, office girl, orderly, page, squire, steward, stewardess, tender, trainbearer, usher, yeoman
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