I'm looking for a word that could replace the expression, broken-in as in "broken-in baseball gloves or a new pair of leather boots," meaning they are ready for comfortable use. Is there a simpler, shorter word that would convey the same message?

  • "old baseball gloves" is the only thing that comes to mind as 'simpler' but that is at the expense of exactness. It depends what you mean by 'simpler'!
    – JeffUK
    May 10, 2018 at 16:33
  • For a vehicle or most machinery with an engine, it would be run-in.
    – Willtech
    May 11, 2018 at 11:12

8 Answers 8


Worn-in, according to Wiktionary:

(of clothing) More comfortable as a result of having been worn often or for an extended period.

From the phrasal verb to wear in, according to Collins Dictionary:

if you wear in something such as a pair of shoes, you wear them until they fit your feet better and are more comfortable

Real-world examples

In reply to Mitch's comment, I have searched for real-world examples of this use as an adjective, I have found some on the Outdoors SE:

But with well worn-in boots I always tend to get more blisters if I wear only one pair. source

Make sure you have proper hiking boots, which fit you well, and which are well worn in. source


1 "Worn-in." Servent - Wiktionary. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/worn-in.

2 "Wear in (phrasal Verb) Definition and Synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary." Grassroots (adjective) American English Definition and Synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/wear-in.

3 Aim Kai. "Is It Better to Wear One Pair or Two Pairs of Socks While Hiking?" The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange. Accessed May 11, 2018. https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/1013/8227.

4 Fgysin. "How to Get Prepared for Fjällräven Classic Hiking Tour?" The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange. Accessed May 11, 2018. https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/13434/8227.

  • Can you use it as an adjective, as the OP has it? Are there any sentences like that in the wild?
    – Mitch
    May 10, 2018 at 19:16
  • 8
    Alternatively, well-worn works too
    – mowwwalker
    May 10, 2018 at 19:26
  • @Mitch it's hard to find using Google, but I found Endaget used it in reference to a backpack: "I'm still in the honeymoon period, but as I near the two-month mark the Crossover feels worn-in, with no signs of wearing through. "
    – JJJ
    May 10, 2018 at 19:39
  • @mowwwalker feel free to add that as a separate answer (preferably with dictionary / real-world examples).
    – JJJ
    May 10, 2018 at 19:42
  • 1
    Plus, the wonderful orthogonality of "worn, worn-in, worn-out"
    – Taryn
    May 10, 2018 at 20:39

Seasoned. Implying fully ready to use (consume) and having passed enough time to be found useful and satisfactory.

  • 3
    +1 - is a nice, broadly-applicable word (can be used for soldiers, food, tools, etc.). Would watch out for specific meanings with regards to wood and cast iron cookware, but I wouldn't expect that to be a problem.
    – Jeutnarg
    May 10, 2018 at 18:30
  • 3
    I dunno, if someone told me their boots were "seasoned" I'd wonder what on earth they were doing putting salt and pepper on footwear... May 10, 2018 at 23:33
  • 1
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit If someone told me their footwear was ‘seasoned’, I’d suggest a long foot bath and perhaps a visit to a podiatrist. May 11, 2018 at 0:01
  • @JanusBahsJacquet it's interesting that you mention 'a long foot bath', turns out that that's actually a way to break in boots, as evidenced by this answer on the Outdoors SE.
    – JJJ
    May 11, 2018 at 0:36

I’d suggest well-worn.

The OED defines it as:


Much worn or used; showing the signs of extensive use or wear.

  • 2
    This is a much later stage. Something that's just broken in is at its peak and may look perfect, but something that's well worn is well on its way to being worn out and looks it.
    – Chris H
    May 11, 2018 at 6:34
  • 1
    @ChrisH I’d argue that “well-worn” is a subset of broken in. For example “I don’t know if I want something so...broken in...” While for some things “broke in” is when it’s at its peak, for other broken in is already well-worn.
    – scohe001
    May 11, 2018 at 14:56

The OP’s question mentions ready for comfortable use and breaking in. I think these are two different requirements. This answer is for the first one.

These leathers boots have been softened.

There are many articles online using this terminology for leather, e.g.

How to Soften Leather Shoes.
New leather shoes can be very painful, causing blisters and other foot-related problems. Unless you soften them, they will stay that way. Fortunately, there are several was to soften the leather, making it more comfortable for your feet. ...

Note: softening is not restricted to breaking in boots or baseball gloves by wearing them. It can instead refer to using oils or rubbing alcohol.


There are several meanings of "broken in", some of which are related to each other:

  • "The thief had broken in through the window" refers to the crime of "breaking and entering"; when for the purpose of intending to commit a further crime, this is covered by a separate offence of burglary under English law. The thief would be called a burglar, and we could say that he burgled the house.

  • "The porter broke into the conversation to point out that their train had arrived." Here the meaning is interrupted. The term break in, with this meaning, is commonly used among radio operators, eg. on board aircraft.

  • "The horse had to be broken in before it could be ridden." Here we could instead say tamed or trained, though that's not what a professional rider would say; they're still appropriate words for a layman character to use.

  • "I wore my new boots for a week, to ensure they were broken in, before I climbed the mountain." For this, worn in is two letters and a syllable shorter; I could also recommend conditioned as a single word. It's also possible to use softened in this context. A similar procedure applied to a new car would be run in.

  • I'm not sure why you included the first 3 bullet points, given that the original question specifically talks about the last meaning. It might be useful information to some, but it is a bit extraneous to the question.
    – V2Blast
    May 11, 2018 at 21:40

A commonly used word to imply broken-in (baseball gloves) meaning they are ready for comfortable use is preconditioned.


preconditioned ADJECTIVE

2 Brought into the desired state for use.

‘preconditioned paper’

Real-life examples:

The following are results from Google search for "preconditioned gloves":

From https://goderichminorbaseball.ca/Pages/1056/Coach_s_Corner/: Preconditioned gloves mould around a hand much quicker and are quite comfortable for a young player.

From https://epdf.tips/the-little-league-guide-to-tee-ball-helping-beginning-players-develop-coordinati.html: Some glove manufacturers will offer preconditioned gloves, gloves that have been treated and mechanically broken in.

  • 3
    Really the correct word for the OP's context is conditioned. "Preconditioned" means specifically that the product was conditioned before it was sold, so that the purchaser doesn't need to do so himself.
    – Chromatix
    May 11, 2018 at 12:43

Well-tempered. Giving a connotation of 'just right'.

  • 5
    Well-tempered is usually used for musical instruments. It might be a little misleading when used for an item of clothing.
    – Mitch
    May 10, 2018 at 17:11
  • 2
    I disagree with @Mitch, as a non-musician, I had no idea it had that connotation. May 10, 2018 at 18:15
  • 2
    @Mitch "well-tempered" meaning a musical instrument would never occur to me - I would be more likely to think of metal or chocolate. May 10, 2018 at 19:21
  • 1
    @AzorAhai Well-tempered with metal or chocolate doesn't have the meaning of broken-in, though... May 10, 2018 at 20:03
  • 2
    @Quasi_Stomach I didn't say it did. I said "well-tempered" would make me think of metal or chocolate before musical instruments. May 10, 2018 at 21:24

Acclimated? If a thing or item is acclimated it has been used enough to exist in comfort in it's environment, yes?

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