List of knot terminology

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This page explains commonly used terms related to knots.




A bend is a knot used to join two lengths of rope.


The alpine butterfly loop is a knot that can be tied on the bight. Alpine butterfly loop.jpg
The alpine butterfly loop is a knot that can be tied on the bight.

A bight has two meanings in knotting. It can mean either any central part of a rope (between the standing end and the working end) or an arc in a rope that is at least as wide as a semicircle. [1] In either case, a bight is a length of rope that does not cross itself. [2] Knots that can be tied without use of the working end are called knots on the bight.

Binding knot

Binding knots are knots that either constrict a single object or hold two objects snugly together. Whippings, seizings and lashings serve a similar purpose to binding knots, but contain too many wraps to be properly called a knot. [1] In binding knots, the ends of rope are either joined together or tucked under the turns of the knot.

Bitter end

Another term for the working end. [3]



The reef knot can capsize if one of its standing ends is pulled. Knoten Kreuzknoten.jpg
The reef knot can capsize if one of its standing ends is pulled.

A knot that has capsized or spilled has deformed into a different structure. Although capsizing is sometimes the result of incorrect tying or misuse, it can also be done purposefully in certain cases to strengthen the knot (see the carrick bend [4] ) or to untie a seized knot which would otherwise be difficult to release (see reef knot).


Chirality is the 'handedness' of a knot. Topologically speaking, a knot and its mirror image may or may not have knot equivalence. [5]


Decorative knot

Although primarily tied for decorative purposes, the Turk's head knot can serve as a hand grip when tied around a cylindrical object. Turks-head-3-lead-10-bight-doubled.jpg
Although primarily tied for decorative purposes, the Turk's head knot can serve as a hand grip when tied around a cylindrical object.

A decorative knot is any aesthetically pleasing knot. Although it is not necessarily the case, most decorative knots also have practical applications or were derived from other well-known knots. [6] Decorative knotting is one of the oldest and most widely distributed folk art. [6]


Knot dressing is the process of arranging a knot in such a way as to improve its performance. Crossing or uncrossing the rope in a specific way, depending on the knot, can increase the knot's strength as well as reduce its jamming potential. [7]



An elbow refers to any two nearby crossings of a rope. An elbow is created when an additional twist is made in a loop. [8]


The 'eye' is in fact what is often (in error) referred to as a 'loop'. The 'eye' functions in the same way as an 'eye bolt' or an 'eye splice'. The 'eye' provides a means to form connections. Note that the 'eye of a knot (or a splice) is fixed and does not slip. If it slipped, it would not function as an eye - it would act like a 'noose'.



A flake refers to any number of turns in a coiled rope. Likewise, to flake a rope means to coil it. [1]

"Flaking" or "Faking" also means to lay a rope on a surface ready to use or to run out quickly without tangles [9]

Figure-8 flake KelebekSarmali 1.JPG
Figure-8 flake


Fraps or "frapping turns" are a set of loops coiled perpendicularly around the wraps of a lashing as a means of tightening. [10]

The rolling hitch is a common type of friction hitch. Stopperstek.jpg
The rolling hitch is a common type of friction hitch.

Friction hitch

A friction hitch is a knot that attaches one rope to another in a way that allows the knot's position to easily be adjusted. Sometimes friction hitches are called slide-and-grip knots. [11] They are often used in climbing applications.



A hitch is a knot that attaches a rope to some object, often a ring, rail, spar, post, or perhaps another rope, as in the case of the rolling hitch. [12]



A jamming knot is any knot that becomes very difficult to untie after use. [13] Knots that are resistant to jamming are called non-jamming knots.


A tripod lashing Tripodlashing3.gif
A tripod lashing


A lashing is an arrangement of rope used to secure two or more items together in a rigid manner. Common uses include the joining of scaffolding poles and the securing of sailing masts. [14] [15] The square lashing, diagonal lashing, and shear lashing are well-known lashings used to bind poles perpendicularly, diagonally, and in parallel, respectively. [16]


A: open loop, B: closed loop, C: turn, D: round turn, and E: two round turns Eyes and turns.jpg
A: open loop, B: closed loop, C: turn, D: round turn, and E: two round turns

In reference to knots, loop may refer to:

A loop is one of the fundamental structures used to tie knots. It is a full circle formed by passing the working end of a rope over itself. When the legs of a closed loop are crossed to form a loop, the rope has taken a turn . [1]

Loop knot

The bowline is a common loop knot. Palstek innen.jpg
The bowline is a common loop knot.

A loop knot is a type of knot that has a fixed 'eye'. The eye can be formed via 'tying-in-the-bight' (TIB) or by non-TIB methods. An example is the Figure 8 eye knot (ABoK #1047) - which can be tied-in-the-bight to directly form the eye in a 1 stage tying process. However, when attempting to attach the F8 eye knot to a climbing harness or to a tree, the TIB method will not work. Instead, the knot must be tied in a 2 stage tying process by first tying a figure 8 knot (ABoK #570) and then re-threading the tail through and around the #570 F8 knot to re-create the final F8 eye knot (#1047). Unlike a hitch, a loop knot creates a fixed eye in a rope that maintains its structure regardless of whether or not it is fastened to an object. In other words, the 'eye' can be removed from an object without losing its shape. [1]
When visualizing the 'eye' of a knot - think in terms of an 'eye bolt' or an 'eye splice'. An eye bolt is not a loop bolt - it is properly referred to as an eye bolt. The same concept applies to an eye splice.



A noose can refer to any sliding loop in which the loop tightens when pulled. [4]


Open loop

An open loop is a curve in a rope that resembles a semicircle in which the legs are not touching or crossed. The legs of an open loop are brought together narrower than they are in a bight. [1]


The eye of a forestay is secured by three round seizings Forestay-Eye-Round-seizings-Bulls-eye.jpg
The eye of a forestay is secured by three round seizings


A seizing is a knot that binds two pieces of rope together side by side, normally in order to create a loop. The structure of seizings is similar to that of lashings. [18]


Setting a knot is the process of tightening it. Improper setting can cause certain knots to underperform. [7]

Slipped knot

The slipped form of the buntline hitch (on the right) can easily be untied by pulling the hanging end and withdrawing the loop. Buntline-hitches-header.jpg
The slipped form of the buntline hitch (on the right) can easily be untied by pulling the hanging end and withdrawing the loop.

A slipped knot is any knot that unties when an end is pulled. Thus, tying the slipped form of a knot makes it easier to untie, especially when the knot is prone to jamming. [1]


Small-stuff is a nautical and knot-tying term for thin string or twine, as opposed to the thick, heavy ropes that are more often used in sailing. It is commonly used in a whipping to bind the ends of ropes to prevent fraying.

Historically, the term referred to cordage less than one inch in circumference. [19] Much of the small-stuff onboard ships, especially that used for decorative or fancy ropework, was made by the sailors themselves reusing materials unlaid from old and leftover pieces of larger rope and cable. [20]



Splicing is a method of joining two ropes done by untwisting and then re-weaving the rope's strands. [21]

Standing end

The standing end (or standing part) of a rope is the part that is not active in knot tying. [1] It is the opposite part in the working end. [4]

Stopper knot

A stopper knot is the type of knot tied to prevent a rope from slipping through a grommet. [22] The overhand knot is the simplest single-strand stopper knot. [1]



A turn is one round of rope on a pin or cleat, or one round of a coil.



A whipping is a binding knot tied around the end of a rope to prevent the rope from unraveling. [18]

Working end

The working end (or working part) of a rope is the part active in knot tying. [1] It is the part opposite of the standing end. [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

Knot Method of fastening or securing linear material

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be practical or decorative, or both. Practical knots are classified by function, including hitches, bends, loop knots, and splices: a hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend fastens two ends of a rope to each another; a loop knot is any knot creating a loop, and splice denotes any multi-strand knot, including bends and loops. A knot may also refer, in the strictest sense, to a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.

Bowline Simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope

The bowline is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load. The bowline is sometimes referred to as King of the knots because of its importance. Along with the sheet bend and the clove hitch, the bowline is often considered one of the most essential knots.

Butterfly loop Knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope

The butterfly loop, also known as lineman's loop, butterfly knot, alpine butterfly knot and lineman's rider, is a knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope. Tied in the bight, it can be made in a rope without access to either of the ends; this is a distinct advantage when working with long climbing ropes. The butterfly loop is an excellent mid-line rigging knot; it handles multi-directional loading well and has a symmetrical shape that makes it easy to inspect. In a climbing context it is also useful for traverse lines, some anchors, shortening rope slings, and for isolating damaged sections of rope.

Constrictor knot

The constrictor knot is one of the most effective binding knots. Simple and secure, it is a harsh knot that can be difficult or impossible to untie once tightened. It is made similarly to a clove hitch but with one end passed under the other, forming an overhand knot under a riding turn. The double constrictor knot is an even more robust variation that features two riding turns.


A shank is a type of knot that is used to shorten a rope or take up slack, such as the sheepshank. The sheepshank knot is not stable. It will fall apart under too much load or too little load.

Clove hitch

The clove hitch is a type of knot. Along with the bowline and the sheet bend, it is often considered one of the most important knots. A clove hitch is two successive half-hitches around an object. It is most effectively used as a crossing knot. It can be used as a binding knot, but is not particularly secure in that role. A clove hitch made around the rope's own standing part is known as either two half-hitches or buntline hitch, depending on whether the turns of the clove hitch progress away from or towards the hitched object.

Although the name clove hitch is given by Falconer in his Dictionary of 1769, the knot is much older, having been tied in ratlines at least as early as the first quarter of the sixteenth century. This is shown in early sculpture and paintings. A round turn is taken with the ratline and then a hitch is added below. The forward end is always the first to be made fast.

The difference between two half hitches and the clove hitch is that the former, after a single turn around a spar, is made fast around its own standing part, while the latter is tied directly around the spar.

Truckers hitch

The trucker's hitch is a compound knot commonly used for securing loads on trucks or trailers. This general arrangement, using loops and turns in the rope itself to form a crude block and tackle, has long been used to tension lines and is known by multiple names. Knot author Geoffrey Budworth claims the knot can be traced back to the days when carters and hawkers used horse-drawn conveyances to move their wares from place to place.

Hangmans knot

The hangman's knot or hangman's noose is a knot most often associated with its use in hanging a person. For a hanging, the knot of the rope is typically placed under or just behind the left ear, although the most effective position is just ahead of the ear, beneath the angle of the left lower jaw. The pull on the knot at the end of the drop levers the jaw and head violently up and to the right, which combines with the jerk of the rope becoming taut to wrench the upper neck vertebrae apart. This produces very rapid death, whereas the traditional position beneath the ear was intended to result in the mass of the knot crushing closed (occluding) neck arteries, causing cessation of brain circulation. The knot is non-jamming but tends to resist attempts to loosen it.

A whipping knot or whipping is a binding of marline twine or whipcord around the end of a rope to prevent its natural tendency to fray.

Zeppelin bend

A Zeppelin bend is an end-to-end joining knot formed by two symmetrically interlinked overhand knots. It is stable, secure, and highly resistant to jamming. It is also resistant to the effects of slack shaking and cyclic loading.

The common whipping is the simplest type of whipping knot, a series of knots intended to stop a rope from unravelling. As it can slip off the rope easily, the common whipping should not be used for rope ends that will be handled. This whipping knot is also called 'wolf' whipping in some parts of the world. The 'Hangman's knot' is a variation of this whipping knot.

Overhand knot with draw-loop

A slipped half hitch is a knot in which the weight of the load the rope carries depresses the loop sufficiently to keep it in place until the load item is placed in its location. When no longer required the free end may be pulled and draw the loop through and so release the load.

Pioneering (scouting)

Pioneering is the art of using ropes and wooden spars joined by lashings and knots to create a structure. Pioneering can be used for constructing small items such as camp gadgets up to larger structures such as bridges and towers. These may be recreational, decorative, or functional.

Cats paw (knot)

The Cat's paw is a knot used for connecting a rope to an object. It is very similar to the cow hitch except there is an additional twist on each side of the bight, making it less prone to slipping.

The cat's-paw is the common hook hitch for slings. It is the same basic form as the bale sling hitch but has additional twists. Brady says "two or three altogether," and Steel, who mentioned the name in 1794, says "three twists." It is the best of all sling hitches and is often recommended for a slippery rope. But no hitch can slip when tied in a slings since it has no ends. All that is needed is a hitch that cannot jam, and this requirement the cat's-paw fills admirably. The knot spills instantly when removed from the hook. It is the hitch always used for heavy lifts.

Stopper knot

A stopper knot is a knot that creates a fixed thicker point on an otherwise-uniform thickness rope for the purpose of preventing the rope, at that point, from slipping through a narrow passage, such as a hole in a block. To pass a rope through a block, or hole, is to reeve it. To pull it out is to unreeve it. Stopper knots prevent the rope from unreeving on its own.

Buntline hitch

The buntline hitch is a knot used for attaching a rope to an object. It is formed by passing the working end around an object, then making a clove hitch around the rope's standing part and taking care that the turns of the clove hitch progress towards the object rather than away from it. Secure and easily tied, the buntline hitch will jam when subjected to extreme loads. Given the knot's propensity to jam, it is often made in slipped form.

The buntline hitch, when bent to a yard, makes a more secure knot than two half hitches, but is more liable to jam. It differs from two half hitches in that the second half hitch is inside instead of outside the first one.

Halter hitch

The halter hitch is a type of knot used to connect a rope to an object. As the name implies, an animal's lead rope, attached to its halter, may be tied to a post or hitching rail with this knot. The benefit of the halter hitch is that it can be easily released by pulling on one end of the rope, even if it is under tension. Some sources show the knot being finished with the free end running through the slipped loop to prevent it from working loose or being untied by a clever animal, still allowing easy but not instant untying.

Falconers knot

The falconer's knot is a knot used in falconry to tether a bird of prey to a perch. Some sources show this knot to be identical to the halter hitch, but with a specific method of single-handed tying needed when the other hand is occupied holding the bird.

Bight (knot)

In knot tying, a bight is a curved section or slack part between the two ends of a rope, string, or yarn. A knot that can be tied using only the bight of a rope, without access to the ends, is described as in the bight. The term "bight" is also used in a more specific way when describing Turk's head knots, indicating how many repetitions of braiding are made in the circuit of a given knot.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ashley, Clifford W. (1993) [reprinted, first printing 1944]. The Ashley Book of Knots . New York: Doubleday. pp. 11–20, 219, 597–599. ISBN   0-385-04025-3. "Any slack part of a rope between the two ends, particularly when curved or looped."
  2. "Rope and Knot Terminology". Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team. Ventura Country Sheriff's Department. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Budworth, Geoffrey (July 1, 1997). The Complete Book of Knots (1 ed.). The Lyons Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN   1-55821-632-4.
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  17. Clifford W. Ashley, The Ashley Book of Knots. Image 31, 32.
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  19. Clifford W. Ashley, The Ashley Book of Knots (New York: Doubleday, 1944), 603.
  20. Ashley, 549.
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