from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A wax colored with lampblack that is used to stain and polish the edges of the soles and heels of shoes or to take rubbings of brass or stone inscriptions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mixture of wax and lampblack used to polish shoes, and in brass rubbing

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A composition of wax and lampblack, used by shoemakers for polishing, and by antiquaries in copying inscriptions.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A preparation of wax used by shoemakers in the form of a ball in burnishing the heels of shoes. Also called blackball.
  • n. A kind of dabber for spreading ink or color upon anything: used in taking trial impressions from engraved plates and the like.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The use of raw linseed oil only is allowed for redressing and the application for such purpose of any kind of wax or varnish, including heelball, is strictly prohibited.

    Manual of Military Training Second, Revised Edition

  • As this part of an Italian violin is not cut so mechanically as many people imagine, another and perhaps quicker way, if means are to hand, is to use thin paper and with some heelball, used by shoemakers, rub the edges that may be felt through and under the paper held in position against it.

    The Repairing & Restoration of Violins 'The Strad' Library, No. XII.

  • When he lifted his head you might see that, notwithstanding the ruggedness of his face, he was a good looking man, with strong, well-proportioned features, in which, even on Sundays, when he scrubbed his face unmercifully, there would still remain lines suggestive of ingrained rosin and heelball.

    Salted with Fire


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