What is the common English name for that "plastic part on the tip of a shoelace" which helps to easily insert the lace into the shoelace holes? (I'm not sure that's the correct name).

Edit: There are also metal parts of the kind.

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    A word for something other than a shoe lace could be a ferrule. – JPhi1618 Oct 23 '17 at 18:21
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    A-G-L-E-T Song from Phineas and Ferb – Matt M Oct 23 '17 at 18:22
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    I thought it was a good question but when I look up plastic part of shoelace on Google. I changed my mind. – user178049 Oct 24 '17 at 1:44
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    @SovereignSun I'm don't think everyday conversations ever include aglets. – muru Oct 24 '17 at 8:37
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    I love that word “aglet” and imagine explaining that one works in an aglet factory. You have to make your own if cutting paracord to use as laces. – JDługosz Oct 25 '17 at 3:01

It's called an "aglet".

a metal or plastic tag or sheath at the end of a lace used for tying, as of a shoelace.

I've known and used this term for years but whether it can be considered "commonly known" is up for debate. It's certainly not unheard of.

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    Nice one. I once asked a lady in the shoelace business, she said they were called "tips". – Weather Vane Oct 23 '17 at 17:17
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    @SovereignSun Either is fine. I think I'd be more likely to omit both. Your original is good, "I just bought new shoelaces". – Catija Oct 23 '17 at 17:22
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    This is one of those fun words that come up more often in crossword puzzles and trivia tests and lists of "words you never knew you always needed" than in actual conversation. Chances are, if you ask a roomful of college-educated native speakers this question, most will look blank or offer "tip?" and one or two will triumphantly shout out "aglet!" :) – 1006a Oct 23 '17 at 19:56
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    "Aglet" might have become better known when Terry Pratchett used it in "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" (published in 2001) where Maurice has to explain what it means after using it. It dates back to late Middle English and derives from the French "aiguillette," "a small needle", the diminutive of "aiguille". – alephzero Oct 24 '17 at 13:10
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    There's even a song about it: youtube.com/watch?v=q0KrkkL6AXo – Tom Anderson Oct 24 '17 at 17:57

"Aglet" is a good word and one that I didn't know, possibly more correct and specific (thanks Catija) but I have always heard them called a "ferrule". Generally it is a ring or tube reinforcing something prone to splitting or fraying. Sometimes it is heatshrink tubing applied to the end of a rope, sometimes a little aluminium tube squeezed onto the end of a bicycle's gear cable, sometimes the brass ring on the top of a chisel's wooden handle where it is struck by the mallet.

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    Is it often used in context of shoelaces? – SovereignSun Oct 24 '17 at 4:47
  • Very often. That could be my Australian flavour of English where it is far more common than aglet though. – Adam Eberbach Oct 24 '17 at 5:58
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    Wikipedia thinks an aglet is a specific type of ferrule (and comes from the french word for "needle"). I'm inclined to agree. It's certainly consistent with the form and function of an aiguillette. – fectin Oct 24 '17 at 15:16
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    There is a component common in electrical work called a "bootlace ferrule", presumably for its similarity to the ferrule at the end of a shoelace. – Éliette Oct 25 '17 at 2:49

While "aglet" is the technically correct term, it is one that many people do not know (as evidenced by how often this question is asked, even by native English speakers). I would instead simply use the word "tip." If you need to specify, you can even say "shoelace tip."

I will also note that "ferrule" derives from "ferrous" which means "made of iron metal." Hence the term "ferrule" is more often used for a metal tip. However, it is also an uncommon word, so I would actually just suggest saying "metal tip" or "metal ring," whichever is more appropriate.

  • +1, but even "tip" would probably not make me understand it, to be honest (and yes, I'm a native English speaker). At the risk of providing a non-answer, I'll offer that if I ever wanted to communicate this idea to another native speaker, I would say "the plastic part on the tip of the shoelace" the first time in the conversation, and subsequently just "that plastic bit." – yshavit Oct 25 '17 at 18:42

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