The term pump for shoes is of unknown derivation according to the Webster's Third New International Dictionary. The reference can be to different types of shoe depending on the person using the word and the speaker's dialect:
* A type of athletic shoe:
o In Britain it is one of many regional names for plimsoll shoes, and as such was one of the ambiguous items requested in the Two Ronnies' sketch "Four Candles".
o In Britain, it is another term for a type of shoe currently popular, also known as ballerina shoes, ballet shoes, ballet pumps or flats. These shoes are usually flat and rounded, covering the toes, sides and back. They are usually made from leather, canvas or synthetic materials. They can be plain, multi-coloured, metallic and be decorated with patterns, straps, bows etc.
o Athletic shoe equipped with inflatable air bladders was known as a pump sneaker, often shortened to pump.
* Shoes worn by dancers are called pumps. This is particularly true of Highland dancers.
* In North America, pumps (court shoes in British English) are heeled shoes with low cut fronts and usually no fastening, but can also be formal shoes for any gender. The type of women's shoe referred to as a pump is somewhat similar in overall shape to the handles of old-fashioned manual well pumps, possibly accounting for the name.