Meaning of white-shoe in English:



  • 1US informal Denoting a company, especially a bank or law firm, owned and run by members of the Wasp elite, generally regarded as cautious and conservative.

    ‘she was recently fired from a white-shoe law firm’
    ‘the firm is not the stuffy white-shoe outfit everyone thinks it is’
    • ‘But perhaps the worst insult, at least to the profession's traditional elite, is the suggestion that you can find white-shoe law firms in - of all places - Newark.’
    • ‘Perhaps his biggest coup was to obtain the ostensibly pro bono services of the white-shoe law firm Simpson Thacher and Bartlett.’
    • ‘Your desk reveals more about your personality than you might think, even if you work in a white-shoe law firm that frowns on personal expression.’
    • ‘A few years back he went to Boston's venerable white-shoe law firm, Palmer and Dodge.’
    • ‘It has been long known as a patrician, white-shoe firm with an air so understated and secretive that at least one former exec likened it to working at the CIA.’
    • ‘His father and grandfather, investment bankers at old white-shoe firms, both had high reputations, but erosion soon set in.’
    • ‘As close to a white-shoe firm as you get down the Jersey shore - because even criminals needs real estate attorneys.’
    • ‘Suddenly bars began to drop: in formerly restricted neighborhoods, in previously elite country and city clubs, in once white-shoe bank, law, and investment firms.’
    • ‘So are white-shoe, Old Economy outfits like consulting firm McKinsey, Deutsche Bank, and Hughes Aircraft.’
    • ‘Unlike hot-money investors rushing in - and out - of emerging markets in search of a quick return, these white-shoe institutions say they're taking a longer-term view of Shanghai's real estate market.’
    • ‘In my youth, the conventional wisdom was that he was a white-shoe number-cruncher who couldn't admit he had made a mistake.’
    • ‘First, it began to race after rich clients with the acquisition of white-shoe wealth manager U.S. Trust, for $3.2 billion in 2000.’
    • ‘He got his start at G.H. Walker & Co., the white-shoe bank run by President George H.W. Bush's uncle.’
    • ‘He says that an ‘international white-shoe corporate brigade’, based in Queensland, want to start up food irradiation again.’
    • ‘Of course, every booming economy has not only its white-shoe financiers but also its lowly offshore workers.’
    • ‘The lawyers, the accountants, and the white-shoe brigade will do well.’
    • ‘They are trying to join the New Economy, outsourcing work to subcontractors and bringing in white-shoe consultants like McKinsey.’
    • ‘Symbols of the excesses of the white-shoe brigade may be kitsch and amusing, but are indicative of a society where development was pursued for the good of a few.’
    • ‘The modern definition of white-shoe is more difficult to pin down.’
    • ‘Tensions inside the firm mounted as some of the firm's white-shoe bankers worried that CEO Purcell would grasp at any deal.’
    1. 1.1Denoting a privileged and wealthy American person, considered as part of a conservative social set.
      ‘white-shoe college boys who edit their campus literary magazines’
  • 2Australian informal Belonging to or characteristic of the wealthy business people of Queensland in the 1980s, especially when perceived as aggressively commercial, vulgarly showy, and politically conservative.

    ‘this was the white-shoe part of town, where the senator had his home’
    • ‘If you think the old white shoes network of helping your mates on the Gold Coast is dead - think again!’
    • ‘It seemed that no state, no piece of coastline had any dignity until it had earned its own white shoe resort.’
    • ‘In the land of the great "white shoe", the Gold Coast Mayor wants to set the record straight as to his council's record of achievement.’
    • ‘The group is made up of rural rednecks, and their white-shoe allies on the adjacent suncoast.’
    • ‘The son of a former white-shoe property developer moved into a $2 million property at exclusive Paradise Point on the Gold Coast a few weeks ago.’


1940s sense 1 is with reference to the white buckskin shoes fashionable among Ivy League college students in the late 1940s and early 1950s; sense 2 is with reference to the showy white shoes worn by Queensland property developers in the 1980s.