In the dictionary

roller skate [count] : a shoe that has wheels on the bottom and that you wear in order to skate on a flat surface — usually plural

a pair of roller skates

skate shoe

(also Heely™ especially in British English, North American English roller shoe) ​ a sports shoe that has one or more wheels underneath it

Learn to roll on your skate shoes.

Youngsters were gliding by on their skate shoes.

skate 2 [countable] one of a pair of boots or frames with small wheels on the bottom, for moving quickly on flat smooth surfaces SYN roller skate

But when I google "skate shoe", it does not show the shoes that I expected.

But when I google "skating shoe", it does show the shoes that I expected.

See the picture:

skate with wheels in a single line

Do we call it "roller skate" or "roller shoe" or "skate shoe" or "skating shoe" or "roller skate"? Which one is the most common?


3 Answers 3


Speaking as an American, I have never before heard the term "skate shoe". I've always heard "roller skates", or "skates" for short.

Note that "skates" can also be short for "ice skates".

The phrase is almost always used in the plural, like "I put on my roller skates" or "I put on a pair of roller skates". I suppose if you lost one of the pair, you might say "I lost a roller skate", like you might say "I lost a shoe", etc, in other contexts where you'd talk about just one.


In the US, we (at least those of us of certain age) would call the item in your picture "roller blades" or "inline skates". Traditional roller skates have the wheels positioned like a car (two wheels side-by-side in the front and back).


This is a roller skate. The wheels pivot together when the skate is leaned, like a skateboard does. Lean right: the front wheel assembly twists clockwise when viewed from above, the rear counter clockwise, like 4 wheel steering on a car.

And then there's the strap on roller skates we had as kids in the 1960s, no practical way to stop except for taking a spill, hopefully onto someone's grass lawn!

skate that attaches to a shoe

  • 1
    As a British person of a certain age I would say that only the strap-on things are "roller skates", the wheeled boots being "roller boots". Don't forget that, originally, (ice) skates were made to be tied or strapped to ordinary footwear and roller skates were developed from them.
    – BoldBen
    Jan 14, 2020 at 21:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .