The unisex sheepskin and fleece footware called UGG boots, or simply uggs, gained popularity in the 1960s when competitive surfers began wearing them. They were the perfect remedy for cold, numb, wet feet.
Now, everyone seems to be sporting the boots, from Hollywood celebrities and their tween followers to suburban moms. Originally of simple design, uggs now sport glamorous embellishments such as brass grommets, fringe, and animal skin patterns.
The history of the term ― and the trademark — are highly disputed. Australia and New Zealand both claim to be the original home of uggs and in these countries the term “ugg” can be used to market any fleece and sheepskin boot. That is, it is considered a generic term. However, in more than 100 other countries, UGG is a registered trademark.
So, what does the word mean?
Well, it doesn’t mean “ugh,” the commonly used interjection of disgust or dislike that was first recorded in 1837.
The word may have derived from fug boots that were worn by aviators in rural Australia during World War I. The term is believed to be a shortened version of “flying ugg boots.”
The owner of one company that has been making the boots since the late 1950s claims that he invented the name. He says that his inspiration came from his wife, who called the boots ugly.