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A stocking is a close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and lower part of the leg, but usually not intended to conceal the leg. It was formerly made of woven cloth but now of knitted wool, silk, cotton or nylon (see Hosiery). The word stock used to refer to the bottom "stump[?]" part of the body, and by analogy the word was used to refer to the one-piece covering of the lower trunk and limbs of the 1400s—essentially tights consisting of the upper-stocks (later to be worn separately as knee breeches) and nether-stocks (later to worn separately as stockings. In modern usage, stocking generally refers to forms of women's hosiery like pantyhose (one piece) and thigh high nylon stockings (two matching pieces).

Half-stockings, covering the foot and part of the calf only, are commonly called socks[?]. This word is an adaptation of Latin soccus, a slipper or light shoe. It was the shoe worn by the actors in Roman comedy—and so was used symbolically of comedy, as buskin, the high boot, was of tragedy. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911)

Stockings were originally an exclusively male piece of apparel. In the 17th century women who took up the masculine fashion of wearing stockings were associated with aspiring to learnedness and other protofeminist causes, which led to the derogatory term blue-stocking[?].

Portions from 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica

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