Tom fool's knot

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Tom fool's knot
NamesTom fool's knot, Tom fool knot, conjurer's knot, bow knot, Greek fool's knot
Category Trick
Related Handcuff knot, Sheepshank, Fireman's chair knot
Typical useVarious
ABoK #1141, #2290, #2291, #2534

The Tom fool's knot, also known as the conjurer's knot, bow knot and Greek fool's knot, is a type of knot sometimes considered a handcuff knot, though usually considered somewhat inferior to it. [1] :208 It is a good knot with which to commence a slightly fancy sheepshank. [1] :210 It is also used as a trick knot due to the speed with which it can be made. [1] :406 The knot has a number of mainly decorative but also functional uses, such as sailing, boating, camping and bondage.



Tom fool's knot is believed to be the knot "epankylotos brokhos" described by the 1st century AD Greek physician Heraklas. [2]


It is formed by making two loops, not exactly overlaying each other. The inner half of each hitch or loop is pulled under and through the outer side of the opposite loop.

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.

Taut-line hitch

The taut-line hitch is an adjustable loop knot for use on lines under tension. It is useful when the length of a line will need to be periodically adjusted in order to maintain tension. It is made by tying a rolling hitch around the standing part after passing around an anchor object. Tension is maintained by sliding the hitch to adjust the size of the loop, thus changing the effective length of the standing part without retying the knot.

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.

Firemans chair knot

A fireman's chair knot is a knot tied in the bight forming two adjustable, lockable loops. The knot consists of a handcuff knot finished with a locking half hitch around each loop. The loops remain adjustable until the half hitches are tightened.

Matthew Walker knot

A Matthew Walker knot is a decorative knot that is used to keep the end of a rope from fraying. It is tied by unraveling the strands of a twisted rope, knotting the strands together, then laying up the strands together again. It may also be tied using several separate cords, in which case it keeps the cords together in a bundle. The traditional use of the knot is to form a knob or "stopper" to prevent the end of the rope from passing through a hole, for instance in rigging the lanyards which tension the shrouds on older sailing ships with standing rigging of fibre cordage.

Cow hitch

The cow hitch, also called the lark's head, is a hitch knot used to attach a rope to an object. The cow hitch comprises a pair of half-hitches tied in opposing directions, as compared to the clove hitch in which the half-hitches are tied in the same direction. It has several variations and is known under a variety of names. It can be tied either with the end of the rope or with a bight.

Handcuff knot

A handcuff knot is a knot tied in the bight having two adjustable loops in opposing directions, able to be tightened around hands or feet. The knot itself does not possess any inherent locking action, and thus is not as easy to use for such purposes as the name might suggest.

Prusik knot

A Prusik is a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, rope rescue, ziplining, and by arborists. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord and the hitch, and the verb is "to prusik". More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope. Due to the pronunciation, the word is often misspelled Prussik, Prussick, or Prussic.

Bottle sling

The bottle sling is a knot which can be used to create a handle for a glass or ceramic container with a slippery narrow neck, as long as the neck widens slightly near the top.

Jury mast knot

The jury mast knot is traditionally used for jury rigging a temporary mast on a sailboat or ship after the original one has been lost. The knot is placed at the top of a new mast with the mast projecting through the center of the knot. The loops of the knot are then used as anchor points for makeshift stays and shrouds. Usually small blocks of wood are affixed to, or a groove cut in, the new mast to prevent the knot from sliding downwards.

Fiador knot

The fiador knot is a decorative, symmetrical knot used in equine applications to create items such as rope halters, hobbles, and components of the fiador on some hackamore designs. As traditionally described, it is a four strand diamond knot in which six of the eight ends loop back into the knot, thus allowing it to be tied with a single line. While a specific knot is discussed in this article, the fiador knot has also been treated as an entire class of multi-strand knots similarly made with a single line.


Heraklas was a Greek physician of the 1st century AD whose descriptions of surgeons' knots and slings are preserved in book 48 of Oribasius' Medical Collections under the title From Heraklas.

Shoelace knot

The shoelace knot, or bow knot, is commonly used for tying shoelaces and bow ties.

Reef knot Type of knot

The reef knot, or square knot, is an ancient and simple binding knot used to secure a rope or line around an object. It is sometimes also referred to as a Hercules knot. The knot is formed by tying a left-handed overhand knot and then a right-handed overhand knot, or vice versa. A common mnemonic for this procedure is "right over left; left over right", which is often appended with the rhyming suffix "... makes a knot both tidy and tight". Two consecutive overhands of the same handedness will make a granny knot. The working ends of the reef knot must emerge both at the top or both at the bottom, otherwise a thief knot results.

The reef knot or square knot consists of two half knots, one left and one right, one being tied on top of the other, and either being tied first...The reef knot is unique in that it may be tied and tightened with both ends. It is universally used for parcels, rolls and bundles. At sea it is always employed in reefing and furling sails and stopping clothes for drying. But under no circumstances should it ever be tied as a bend, for if tied with two ends of unequal size, or if one end is stiffer or smoother than the other, the knot is almost bound to spill. Except for its true purpose of binding it is a knot to be shunned.

Surgical knot

Surgical knots (ligatures) are the knots used to bind suture materials together while binding tissue in surgery. They are used in medical and veterinary settings.


  1. 1 2 3 Ashley, Clifford W. (1944), The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday
  2. Hage, J. Joris (2008). "Heraklas on Knots: Sixteen Surgical Nooses and Knots from the First Century A.D.". World Journal of Surgery. 32 (4): 648–655. doi:10.1007/s00268-007-9359-x. PMID   18224483. S2CID   21340612.