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noun [countable]

a training shoe with one or more wheels fixed in the heel part of the sole, used as a fun way of moving along quickly

Heely also heely

verb [intransitive]

Heelying also heelying or heeling or Heely-ing or heely-ing

noun [uncountable]

Heeling also heeling

noun [uncountable]

'Heelys, the sneakers with the wheels on the soles, have rolled into our cities and suburbs and country villages, transforming our apple-cheeked children into surreptitious freestylin' pedestrians.'

Times Herald-Record 21st February 2007

'She had been heelying on a bumpy surface and fell over on her ankle. She ended up in hospital and had a plaster on for over three weeks.'

CBBC Newsround 31st January 2007

'Heelys denies its product is inherently dangerous, pointing to figures from America showing that Heely-ing is far less hazardous than skateboarding, for example.'

The Telegraph 1st February 2007

If you need to speed up the time it takes you to walk to the office in the morning, why not join one of the latest crazes and grab yourself a pair of Heelys? They might look like innocent training shoes, but by surreptitiously enabling those chunky wheels embedded in the sole, you'll suddenly be able to glide along the pavements at a rate of knots – just be careful about stationary objects and passers-by!

Retailing in the UK at between £50 and £70 (or $100 to $140), Heelys were one of the most popular Christmas present ideas for December 2006. Their novelty value lies in the fact that, unlike roller skates or Rollerblades, the wearer has a choice about whether they walk, run or, by shifting their weight to their heels – roll. The embedded wheels can also be removed whenever the wearer pleases, for comfort or safety. Heelys come in a range of junior and adult sizes, and also in different models such as grinding (incorporating a nylon plate for grinding rails and benches, etc) and double wheel (with two wheels instead of one). There are also various types of removable wheels, sporting names such as Original, Fats and Mega.

tales of children having 'Heely-related' accidents have been a regular feature in the media of recent months

Though Heelys have become immensely popular with children of all ages as a new and fun way to move around, they have also sparked a wave of controversy amid concerns about safety. Supermarkets such as Tesco in the UK and Giant Food Stores in the US have banned the use of Heelys in their stores, and tales of children having 'Heely-related' accidents have been a regular feature in the media of recent months.

Background – Heely

The Heely (so named because of the location of the wheel in the heel of the shoe) was invented in 1998 by former clinical psychologist Roger Adams of the US. From the humble beginnings of experimenting with a butter knife, a skateboard wheel and an old pair of Nike trainers, Heelys Inc is now a multi-million dollar business based in Dallas, selling Heelys in more than thirty countries.

Though the plural form of Heely is officially Heelys, it is frequently also spelt Heelies. On the model of roller skate and skateboard, Heely has also become an intransitive verb and spawned an activity noun Heelying, sometimes hyphenated and/or decapitalized, and also known as Heeling. Heely fanatics are sometimes referred to as Heely-ers or Heelers.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 2nd April 2007.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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