You say “flip-flops”, Hawaiians say “slippahs.”

In the islands, the preferred footwear of choice for Hawaiians is “slippahs”.

Flip-flops are a thong sandal so named by Americans and Brits since the early 1970s. An example of an onomatopoeia, the word derives from the sound that is made by walking in them.

In other parts of the world, flip-flops go by different appellations. In India— the “air sandals” are known as Hawai chappal. In Japan, zori. Hawaiians call them slippers.


Flip-flops can be traced to the ancient Egyptians. One pair, discovered in Europe and composed of papyrus leaves, dates back 1500 years and was worn in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus Christ.

Can you say wow? Who knew?


Flip-flop Factoids
1. Masai flip-flops are made of rawhide.
2. The Japanese and Chinese use rice straw.
3. Made of wood in India. Ouch.
4. In Mexico, flip-flops are constructed using the yucca plant.
5. The strap hasn’t always been between the first and second toes.
6. Ancient Roman citizens wore the sandal strap between the 2nd and 3rd toes.
7. In ancient India, only a “toe knob” separated the 1st and 2nd toes.
8. The modern flip-flop emerged in the U.S. as soldiers returned from World War II bringing the Japanese zori.


The flip-flop became popular in the 1950s and was redesigned to fit in with the bright colors common to the postwar American culture. In the 1960s, Californians adopted the sandals as a necessary wardrobe element of their beach lifestyle. Since then, flip-flops have become an essential footwear not just for beach or casual occasions. Girls decorate their sandals with charms, beads and jewelry.

Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to be photographed wearing flip-flops while vacationing in his native Hawai’i. Sales of flip-flops exceeded sneakers for the first time in 2006, a remarkable feat considering the low cost nature of the sandals. As Americans embrace the less is more, casual lifestyle, flip-flops promise to be an enduring element of the American dream.


What are your favorite flip-flops?


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See for more slippah photos featured in Aloha Rose.


2 thoughts on “You say “flip-flops”, Hawaiians say “slippahs.”

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