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Penny loafers


Etymology 1[edit]

Perhaps short for landloafer, possibly a partial translation of German Landläufer (compare dialectal German loofen "to run"); or connected to Middle English lo(o)ve, lo(o)ffinge "a remnant, the rest, that which remains or lingers" from Old English lāf (remainder, residue, what is left) (more at lave), which is akin to Scots lave (the rest, remainder), Old English lǣfan (to leave behind) (more at leave).


loafer (plural loafers)

  1. An idle person.
  2. A shoe with no laces, resembling a moccasin.

Etymology 2[edit]

From American Spanish lobo (wolf) (/ˈloβo/), reinterpreted as or conflated with loafer (idler); compare the alternative forms which reflect other re-interpretations and conflations. Doublet of lupus.

Alternative forms[edit]


loafer (plural loafers)

  1. (Western US dialects) A wolf, especially a grey or timber wolf.
    • 1964, Ike Blasingame, Dakota Cowboy: My Life in the Old Days, page 72:
      The great menace to livestock, other than the continual battle with cold, [...] was the gray wolf. [...] The big loafers came in from everywhere.
    • 2010, Cynthia K. Rhodes, Lucille Mulhall: An Athlete of Her Time →ISBN:
      Cowboys had killed “loafers” at five hundred yards away with rifles. [...] Lucille was not like most cowhands and she sets out to capture the "loafer" with her lariat.
    • 2016, Patrick Dearen, A Cowboy of the Pecos, page 128:
      By the 1890s loafers had become such a problem that some newly organized counties, as well as certain cattle outfits, paid bounties for their scalps. For a cowboy making a dollar or so a day, wolf-hunting could be lucrative.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Often used in compound with "wolf": "loafer wolf".

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert N. Smead, Vocabulario Vaquero/Cowboy Talk: A Dictionary of Spanish Terms from the American West