How to Talk Sneakers - An Overview of Sneaker Industry Terms

Before entering sneaker culture, here are some of the most commonly used terms within the sneaker industry. This includes sneaker reselling terms, sneakerhead shoes slang, and much more.

How to Talk Sneakers - An Overview of Sneaker Industry Terms

Whether you’re someone who’s just starting out in the sneaker community or want to better understand what sneaker forums are all about, this list will outline some of the popular sneaker terminology within the industry. Deciphering between what’s a “cop” or a “drop” can be crucial in expanding your collection. Luckily, you can use this list to better understand what our sneakerhead community is talking about.

Why is it Important to Know Sneaker Terms?

The sneaker community is extremely diverse and tight-knit. Because of this, terms used within the community are derived from cities across the globe. Understanding sneaker slang will help you assimilate to the industry. Moreover, it can help you understand what sneaker collectors predict to be upcoming trends and decipher what’s being said about new releases. Let’s dive in.


General Sneaker Terminology

These are basic terms used in the sneaker industry. Some terminology is specific for certain brands, but many can be used with a wide range of brand names.

  • B-Grade: These are sneakers that have manufacturing flaws. Due to this, they typically end up at a discounted price in outlet stores. Finding B-Grade shoes is a great way to get rare colorways at a lower price.
  • Beaters: Sneakers that you wear on a regular basis and you don’t mind getting dirty.


  • Bricks: Sneakers that aren’t worth reselling since they won’t bring in any profit.
  • Colorway: This refers to the sneaker’s color combination that differentiates them from the rest of the collection.


  • Cop: To purchase something.
  • Deadstock: Refers to a sneaker that is brand new, unworn, factory laced, and comes complete with the original box. Due to this, they can be quite profitable.


  • Factory Laced: Meaning that the laces look freshly made and unworn. This is usually to show that the sneakers are in pristine condition.
  • Fufu: If a sneaker is a fufu it's a fake. This slang term refers to the sneaker being inauthentic or a counterfeit.
  • GOAT: Greatest Of All Time. This is commonly referred to Michael Jordan products.
  • Grail: Highly sought after sneakers either due to their design, price tag, or popularity.


  • Holy Grail: A sneaker that one has been trying to purchase for years and haven’t been able to find or cop. This is commonly used to describe your dream pair of sneakers.
  • Hypebeast: Someone who is a sneakerhead that lacks originality in their style. These sneakerheads tend to only purchase what is seen as popular.
  • Insole: This is the layer of cushioning on the inside of the sneaker. Although removable, it is made to create warmth, deodorizer, and enhance the shoe’s comfortability.


  • Jumpman: Refers to Michael Jordan sneakers and clothing line due to the shoe’s silhouette.
  • Lateral: Term used to describe the outside sidewalls of the sneaker.
  • Medial: Term used to describe the inner sidewalls of the sneaker.
  • Midsole: Term used to describe the cushioning between the insole and the outsole of the sneaker. This is where the sneaker gains its comfortability.
  • Reseller: Someone who purchases a sneaker for the purpose of selling it on the secondary market. Those who are inexperienced resellers are sometimes referred to as BTEC resellers.


  • Sample: A prototype of a sneaker design that is not produced for the public.
  • Sneakerhead: Someone who thoroughly enjoys collecting and learning about sneakers. This is someone who is extremely knowledgeable about sneakers and the community as a whole.

Abbreviated Terminology

In addition to the general terminology, there are abbreviations that are commonly used within the community. These abbreviations make it easier to quickly share or communicate information.

  • Friends and Family (F&F): This is a type of exclusive sneaker that those who are either friends or family of the brand/collaborator have access to the product. Some stores release F&F as well to consistent customers.


  • General Release (GR): A sneaker that is being released and mass produced to retailers. These are typically not highly exclusive shoes.
  • Grade School (GS): Where women with a smaller foot size purchase child sneakers for its inexpensive price and colorways.
  • Limited Edition (LE): This is a type of sneaker that is only being produced in small quantities and is seen as highly exclusive. Due to the scarcity of sneaker design, this type of shoe tends to sell out fast.


  • New With Tags (NWT): This can be used interchangeably with deadstock.
  • Or Best Offer (OBO): Used within the resell space, this means there is some room for negotiation on the presented asking price. Usually presented with a BIN (Buy it Now) price before it.
  • Original (OG): This refers to only the original release of a sneaker.


  • Player Exclusive (PE): Referring to a sneaker type that is specifically designed for athletes and will not be mass produced for the public.
  • Special Edition (SE): A type of sneaker that has specifically been designed to celebrate or highlight a special event.
  • True to Size (TTS): This refers to the size of the shoe and how it fits perfectly for the designated shoe size.


  • Very Near Deadstock (VNDS): Not at deadstock level of condition, however, this is used to describe sneakers with very minimal wear and could potentially pass as deadstock for those outside the community.
  • Want to Buy (WTB) or Want to Sell (WTS): Used in the resell space, these abbreviations are used by sneakerheads to say what shoes they wish to purchase or sell.

Sneaker Brand Specific Terms

A few major brands largely dominate the sneaker market, and slang has been cultivated specifically for these companies. Here are terms sneakerheads use only when speaking about these brands.



  • All Conditions Gear (ACG): A collection launched in 1989 that has bold and bright colorways. This line was relaunched in 2014 and is seen as an outdoors inspired sub label of the brand.
  • Concept Japan (CO.JP): Refers to Nike’s line that was exclusively made for the Japanese market between the 1990s and early 2000s.


  • Individually Designed (ID): Where sneakerheads can customize their own shoes on Nike’s website.
  • Let Everyone Order (LEO): Release method on the SNKRS app that adds sneakerheads to a queue for random selection and selects winners within a few minutes.


  • Premium (PRM): Used to describe Nike’s sneakers that were made with high quality materials.
  • Quickstrike (QS): Referring to Nike’s sneakers that are only accessible to Tier 0 retailers and accounts. Due to this, they are very limited.


  • Skateboarding (SB): In reference to an early 2000s skateboard-focused line which created the Dunk SB.
  • Special Project (SP): Used to describe Nike’s collaborations and experimental sneaker creations.




  • 4D: A type of insole Adidas created from liquid to create comfort and support for athletes.
  • Boost: In reference to a midsole technology that was created in 2013 to create peak performance and durability for their customers.


  • Equipment (EQT): A line Adidas launched specifically for athletes and their unique needs.
  • Ultraboost: This is a type of technology that is a combination of their two other products the Boost midsole and Primeknit upper.


  • Y-3: A popular collaboration between Japanese designer, Yohij Yamamoto, and Adidas.
  • Yeezy: A popular line created by both Kanye West and Adidas.


Becoming a Part of the Sneakerhead Community

Understanding the sneakerhead community’s slang is a crucial part of diving into the industry culture. To better communicate with those in the industry and comprehend what forums are saying about the latest releases, understanding these terms can help you significantly. While dependent on a variety of factors, such as the city you live in, some of these terms may change, but this resource can serve as your general dictionary on sneaker terminology.



Q: What is sneakerhead slang?
A: Sneakerhead slang are terms specifically used to describe sneakers and brands for those within the community.

Q: Who is the biggest sneakerhead?
A: Many celebrities, such as DJ Khaled, Teyana Taylor, and Lil Yachty, are sneakerheads and have an impressive collection of shoes.

Q: Do sneakerheads keep boxes?
A: Original boxes are crucial to keep when it comes to reselling and maintaining the value of the shoe.