Sneaker Terminology: All Terms You Need To Know

Shoe sizing, condition, release, and model are all important factors to consider when buying sneakers. In this article, we will discuss the different sneaker terminologies for these three factors as well as other terms to help you master the world of sneakers. We will also provide some tips for buying sneakers based on these factors.

Shoe Sizing 

About the terms of shoe sizing in the world of sneakers, we will discuss the 3Y, 4E, TD, PS, and GS:

The meaning of 3Y 

3Y stands for “Size 3 Youth” in shoe terms. In general, youth-size shoes are smaller than regular shoes but larger than children’s shoes. Besides, children aged 9 and up will typically wear these shoes. The range size from 1Y to 6Y will fit children between the ages of 7 and 12.

Note: Most children aged 11 and 12 will have a change in foot size. However, some taller kids can transition to adult size sooner than their peers, and shorter ones later. So, when buying children’s shoes, you need to keep a few things in mind:

  • It is important to measure your child’s feet regularly. 
  • You may need to buy shoes that are a half size or even a full size larger than your child’s current size, especially if they are growing. 
  • Look for shoes that have a wide toe box to allow for the growth of your child’s feet.

In the United States shoe size system, kids and men are generally about the same size in length. Specifically, children’s size 3Y will be equivalent to size 3 for men’s shoes. Besides, for women’s shoes, there will be a difference of 1.5-2 between children and women. That means women’s shoes will be 1.5-2 sizes larger than children’s shoes. Here, we provide you convert table size to measure: 

  • 1Y – 3.5Y
US – Kids1Y1.5Y2Y2.5Y3Y3.5Y
Foot Length (cm)20.120.520.921.421.822.2
  • 4Y – 7Y
US – Kids4Y4.5Y5Y5.5Y6Y6.5Y7Y
Foot Length (cm)22.422.723.223.523.824.324.6

Read more: 9 Best Gym Sneakers For 2023

The meaning of 4E 

4E describes an extra-wide shoe in the shoe size symbol. Normally, when buying shoes, we will see the 2E and 4E symbols most often in this category.

For men’s shoes, 2E will be labeled as wide while 4E will be labeled as extra wide. Meanwhile, in women’s shoes, 2E and 4E both indicate extremely wide shoes and 4E is less common in women’s shoe sizes.

In general, the more E letters, the wider the shoe width. This means that 4E will have a wider toe box than 2E. 

Additionally, you may find the following shoe width measurements helpful:

  • A/2A/4A Widths (Smallest): The “A” symbol indicates a shoe with an extremely narrow width. The more “A” letters there are, the narrower the shoe width will be. For instance, a 3A width will be narrower than a 2A width.
  • B Widths (Medium): This is the most common size for women’s shoes, representing a standard, normal width. It tends to provide a comfortable fit for most women.
  • D Widths (Large): This size is often found in men’s shoes. For men, this is the standard, normal width and typically offers a comfortable fit.

Here we provide size charts for men and women in table format to help you understand clearly:

  • Men’s Shoes 
Shoe’s DenotationShoe’s Width
D/M/AMedium or Average
  • Women’s Shoes
Shoe’s DenotationShoe’s Width
AAAA/4A/SS/ESSuper Slim or Extra Narrow
B/M/AMedium or Average
EE/2E/WW/EW/XWExtra Wide
The letter 4E in the shoe size describes an extra-wide shoe

The meaning of TD 

TD stands for Toddler, which is a term for toddlers aged 1 to 3 years. You can also find TD shoes from famous brands like Nike and Adidas in the Children’s shoe category.

Since children’s feet have not fully developed their bone structure, their shoes are designed with particular features for support, such as a square shape, breathable and super soft material, flexibility, and cotton uppers, protecting their feet. 

Currently, these TD items come in many different designs, styles, and colors to meet the needs and preferences of children. With prices ranging from a few dozen dollars and up, you can freely choose when buying. You may want to consider using the size chart below to buy the shoes: 

AgeShoe length (cm)USEUSA|UK
12-18 months13cm4193
12-18 months14cm5204
18-24 months15cm621-225
2-2.5 years16cm7236
2.5-3 years16.5cm8247
3-3.5 years17.5cm925-268
3.5-4 years18cm10279
4-4.5 years19cm1128-2910
4.5-5 years20cm123011
5-6 years21cm1331-3212

The meaning of PS  

PS stands for Pre-school, which is used for children typically aged between 3 to 5 years old. The appropriateness of PS shoe sizes can depend on the brand, shoe type, and the sizing standards of the country. So, it’s important to research thoroughly to avoid buying an incorrect size that could cause discomfort for the child.

Typically, PS shoes feature breathable uppers made of leather or canvas, which are effective at wicking away sweat. Additionally, the soles are usually made from natural rubber to prevent slipping on wet surfaces.

Please note: We generally do not recommend choosing unisex PS shoes, as the bone structure of boys’ and girls’ feet differ. In particular, you should seek out PS shoes with additional arch support for girls, as most girls have higher arches and thinner soles compared to boys

Here, we provide a table of size charts for kids so you can compare and make a better decision:

Heel-to-toeLength (inches)Heel-to-toeLength (cm)Size for EU KidsSize for US KidsSize for UK Kids
The PS term is used for children aged between 3 to 5 years old

The meaning of GS 

GS stands for “Grade School” in shoe sizing. The term is used by many shoe manufacturers, including Nike and Jordan Brand, to denote sizes that typically apply to school-age children, typically those between the ages of 6 and 12.

This symbol entry appears after “TD” (Toddler) and “PS” (Preschool) during the growing child’s size. When a child is older than the GS range, they usually switch to adult shoes, starting at men’s size 7 or women’s size 8.5 for US shoe sizes.

Here is the table size chart for GS size, which you can use to choose shoes for them: 

US SizeUK SizeCentimetersInches
3.5 Y3 K22.58
4 Y3.5 K238
4.5 Y4 K23.59
5 Y4.5 K23.59
5.5 Y5 K249
6 Y5.5 K249
6.5 Y6 K24.59
7 Y6.5 K24.59

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Shoe Condition 

In terms of shoe condition, we will explore the meaning of DS, PADS, NWT, and BNIB or NIB to help you understand clearly:

The meaning of DS

DS stands for deadstock, which is a common term used in the field of sports shoes. These shoes have never been worn or tried on and are brand new. However, these are shoes that do not sell because they are out-of-date, limited-edition releases, or produced in small quantities.

Currently, sneakerheads are still looking for these models as “Old but gold”. For example, versions like the Air Jordan 11 Space Jam (1996) and the Nike Air Yeezy 1 (2009).

In addition, there are many types of DS sneakers available on the market today. Here are a few examples:

  • DS running shoes: These shoes are typically made from lightweight and high-quality materials that provide comfort while running. They also have a breathable mesh upper and a cushioned sole, which makes running lighter and helps to prevent foot pain.
  • DS basketball shoes: These shoes typically feature a high-collar design and durable materials. Their designs are often inspired by famous players and events.

The meaning of PADS

PADS stands for “Pass As Deadstock”, which refers to sneakers that have been worn for a very short time or are nearly new. 

For example, if you bought a pair of Nike sneakers a month ago but have never worn them, they would be considered deadstock. However, if you bought the sneakers five minutes ago and then wore them, they would be considered PADs

PADs can also include shoes that have been tried on but could easily be mistaken for brand-new items. Therefore, many sneakerheads may consider PADs and deadstock (DS) to be similar. But if you are someone who only appreciates 100% deadstock in your sneaker collection, make sure to check the condition of the sneakers carefully and ask the seller questions to ensure that you receive the item you are expecting.

The meaning of NWT

NWT stands for “New With Tag” in the context of sneakers. It means that the sneakers are brand new, never been worn, and come with the original packaging, tag, shoe box, and wrapping paper.

When buying an item described as NWT, it’s still crucial to check the item’s pictures and description carefully, and if possible, ask the seller questions to make sure the item meets your expectations.

Sneakers with NWT are brand new and have never been worn

The meaning of BNIB or NIB

BNIB or NIB stands for “Brand New in Box” and “New in Box”. When sneakers are BNIB or NIB, it means that they are like you bought them directly from the store, not used.

For these items, the box is very important to shoe collectors not only for storage purposes, but also contains detailed information such as the model name, color, and size of the shoe.

Of course, BNIB and NIB items will be more expensive than used items. However, it’s always important to carefully check the item description and images, and if possible, ask the seller questions to verify the condition of the item. This is especially important if you’re buying from an individual seller or on a resale platform, as standards of “New” can sometimes vary.

Read more: 8 Best Zumba Sneakers 2023

Shoe Release and Model 

Here, we will discuss the meanings of 3 terms in shoe release and model: OG, Retro, and UA: 

The meaning of OG

OG stands for  “Original” in the world of sneakers. It typically indicates a shoe’s first release, iconic color design, or genuine reproduction. 

In detail, it also has two meanings. First, OG can refer to the original colorways of a shoe at the time of its first release. For example, the Air Jordan 1 in the “Bred” colorway (black and red) was released in 1985, the same year the Air Jordan line was first introduced. Second, OG can be used to describe the first release of a specific sneaker model. For example, if a brand releases a shoe in 1990 and then re-releases it in 2000 and 2010, the 1990 version of the shoe would be considered the OG.

In sneakerhead communities, OGs are always in high demand. People tend to like to buy shoes that have meaning, and OGs are often the first models in a line that set the stage for future releases. In addition, sneakerheads are also interested in the rarity of OGs, which are not always easy to come by. For a sneakerhead, it’s a great feeling to be one of the first 1,000 or 100,000 people to own an OG.

The meaning of Retro

Retro describes the re-release of a shoe that was originally released in the past. The shoe may be released in the same design, color, or with new technology. 

For example, Nike’s Air Jordan line. The Air Jordan I was originally released in 1985, and since then, Nike has re-released the shoe several times in versions called “Retro” releases. These classic releases may use the same basic design but may introduce new colors or minor style changes.

For the sneakerhead community, these retro shoe releases are often highly sought-after because they are difficult to find and represent a piece of sneaker history.

The meaning of UA

UA stands for “Unauthorized Authentic”. It is used to refer to shoes that are not officially authorized by the brand to be produced or sold, but are made with similar or identical materials and are produced in the same factory as the official product.

In the market, UA sneakers are often referred to as “Gray market goods,” “B-grade sneakers,” or “Factory variations.” As mentioned above, they are produced in the same factory with the same materials, but they do not meet the quality standards of the brand. This is due to QC (Quality Control) issues. UA sneakers may have minor flaws, such as yellowing soles, loose stitching, or other defects. These defects prevent them from being released as official products and are therefore labeled as UA.

UA sneakers are referred to as Gray market goods 

Shoe Design and Performance 

With shoe design and performance, we can explore five terms: EP, PE, PF, SB, and SE. We will provide detailed information for you below:

The meaning of EP

EP stands for “Engineered Performance”, which is specially designed with performance improvements. These improvements typically include innovative features that can support athletes in sports. These may be changes that support flexibility, durability, and traction.

Overall, EP shoes use advanced materials such as new polymers, and foam technology. For example, Nike’s React foam or Adidas’ Boost technology, which helps to absorb shock and protect you from injuries when worn. Or, some sports shoe designs will be simulated on computers to ensure optimal performance, especially in sports-specific shoes.

In addition, EP shoes also help you play on rough terrain and have higher durability thanks to the slightly recessed traction pattern and outsole design. With these factors, these shoes are suitable for outdoor activities and athletes,  who demand the highest level of performance from their footwear. You can consider EP models that are chosen by many people such as Nike Kyrie Infinity EP, and Nike Basketball KD 15 EP.

The meaning of PE

PE stands for “Player Edition” or “Player Exclusive” in sneaker terminology. It is a term commonly used by NBA players to refer to a unique colorway of a specific shoe.

These shoes often feature team colors. In addition, designers may incorporate the player’s initials or jersey number, as well as other symbols that are relevant to the player. A specific example is the Chicago colorway of the Air Jordan 1.

Many PEs are produced specifically for athletes and are not sold to the public, but some are still released at retail. As a result, PE sneakers have been highly sought-after by collectors at high prices.

Some famous NBA players have many PE versions of their signature shoes, and some of them have been released to the public such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant.

The meaning of PF

PF stands for “Performance Fitting”, which refers to a feature that every shoe must have. Besides, they base on 2 criteria design and function to define this term.

First, in terms of design, PF shoes must have a unique design that meets the needs of each activity. For example, basketball shoes must be designed to support the ankle and have a good grip for lateral movements at high intensity. Or football shoes are designed to keep the foot close to the ground for greater stability when running on the ground.

Second, regarding function, PF shoes must support and make you comfortable when wearing them. Specifically, these shoes will have a shock absorption function, helping to reduce pressure on your feet, calves, and joints when running. In addition, they can help you strengthen the muscles in your feet and calves when worn. Moreover, PF shoes can help improve your performance in any activity. Whether it helps you run faster and longer, jump higher, or move more efficiently, the ultimate goal of PF shoes is to help you achieve your best performance.

Basketball shoes must be designed to support the ankle

The meaning of SB

SB stands for “Skateboarders”, and the famous shoe brand Nike leading the trend for releasing SB shoe versions in their Nike Skateboard collectors. 

These models are usually designed with a padded tongue and cushioned midsole for better comfort and shock absorption. The outsole is made of rubber for better slip resistance and great grip on the skateboard.

One of the famous models of the Nike SB collection and an early release is the Nike SB Dunk. Originally released as a basketball shoe in the 1980s, the Dunk was then redesigned and added to the SB line. These usually have creative and unique color schemes, and some limited editions are sought after by sneaker enthusiasts.

Now, there are many high-quality SB shoe models that you can choose from, such as Nike SB Check Solarsoft Canvas, and DC Kalis Vulc. 

The meaning of SE

SE stands for “Special Edition”, which is found at special events, important occasions, or festivals of sneaker brands. These are special versions that are only distributed at special events, in order to emphasize the importance of these holidays and are also seen as a marketing strategy to increase brand awareness.

Normally, these pairs are usually more expensive. Because, the manufacturer will choose high-quality materials, and special designs to produce these SE models.

For example, the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Zebra SE. This is a collaboration between Yeezy of Adidas and Kanye West. This version has a black-and-white striped pattern that is particularly prominent compared to the darker lines that are typically seen in the Yeezy line.

Other Terms You May Need To Know 

Here, we also provide you with additional information about other terms in the world of sneakers:

The meaning of QS 

QG stands for “Quickstrike” in sneaker culture. This term refers to a type of limited-edition release that is only available at select retail stores. These are usually highly sought-after and sell out quickly.

Read more: 8 Best Dance Sneakers

The meaning of LC

LC stands for “Legit Check”, which is used when you want to verify the authenticity of a sneaker, especially important when purchasing rare or high-demand models which are often counterfeited.

When buying you should verify the authenticity of a sneaker

The meaning of Grails

Grails refers to a sneaker enthusiast’s most sought-after pairs. These are typically hard-to-find models or editions, or sneakers that hold special personal value.

For example, sneakers like the Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October were a collaboration between Nike and rapper Kanye West or the Adidas Futurecraft 4D features a 3D-printed midsole.

The meaning of Hypebeast 

Hypebeast describes someone who is constantly chasing the latest and most hyped trends in fashion, especially in streetwear and sneakers. The term originated from the streetwear blog Hypebeast which reports on fashion, art, music, and culture news.


In conclusion, the world of sneakers is a complex one, with many different terminologies to learn. However, by understanding the basics of shoe sizing, condition, release, and model, you can be well on your way to becoming a sneakerhead.

We hope this article has been helpful in providing you with a basic understanding of these important terminologies. As you continue to learn more about sneakers, we encourage you to explore the different communities and resources available online. There are many passionate sneakerheads who are always willing to share their knowledge and help others learn more about this exciting hobby.


  1. What terminology do people from the Southern regions use for sneakers?

    In various parts of the U.S., especially around the western Great Lakes, Iowa, and the West (excluding the Northwest), the term “Tennie” might be used. However, in the Northwest, people might say “Tennie-runner.” In the South, they could use “Tennie-pump,” “Tennies,” or just “Tennis.”

  2. What does DSWT mean?

    Nowadays, the term “deadstock” or its variant “DSWT”, which stands for “deadstock sneaker with tags”, refers to a pair of shoes that haven't been worn. Such shoes are typically traded, bought, or sold.

  3. Can you explain what SRA shoes are?

    Footwear can receive three types of slip ratings: SRA, SRB, and SRC. A shoe will be given an SRA designation if it achieves the required friction coefficient on a ceramic tile surface treated with a soap solution. In contrast, an SRB rating signifies that the shoe meets the necessary friction coefficient on a steel surface with glycerol.

  4. What does the term “R3P” signify in the context of shoes?

    The term “R3P” is a way of referring to replicas or counterfeit shoes. Instead of labeling them as fakes, they are sometimes termed “UA” or “unauthorized authentics” since they claim to be authentic without official authorization.

  5. What is the significance of “SC”?

    “SC” stands for “Sports Classic.” However, when referenced on Bo Jackson's basketball shoes, it was originally meant to signify “Strength and Conditioning.”

Naava Xin

Naava Xin

Naava Xin is the CEO and Founder of Outfitoza, she has over 5 years of experience in Clothing, she has helped hundreds of fashionistas understand more about fashion and love shopping.