True lover's knot

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True lover's knot
True Lover's knot-2.jpg
This variation is also a form of the Matthew Walker knot (#2421).
NamesTrue lover's knot, True Love Knot, Fisherman's knot, Middleman's knot, [1] Shamrock knot [1]
Category Bend
Related Fisherman's knot, Matthew Walker's knot
Typical usesymbolism, connecting two lines, lanyards, decorative
ABoK #798, #1038, #1143, #1414, #2418, #2301, #2394, #2420, #2421, #2423, #2424, #2425, #2425, #2426

The term true lover's knot, also called true love knot is used for many distinct knots. The association of knots with the symbolism of love, friendship and affection dates back to antiquity. Because of this, no single knot can be determined to be the true "true love knot". [2]



True lover's knot (#2421) before tightening. The intertwined overhand knots are readily visible. True Lover's knot-0.jpg
True lover's knot (#2421) before tightening. The intertwined overhand knots are readily visible.

Modern western knotting literature has the name for these related knots deriving from stories or legends in which the knots symbolize the connection between a couple in love. Many examples feature sailors separated from their beloved. Ashley notes that it was once common for sailors' wedding rings, where gold wire was wrought to incorporate the "true lovers" knot such that resultant ring would comprise two tori: each flexible to move about the other; yet nevertheless inseparable. [3]


In practical terms, these knots are generally shown as consisting of two interlocked overhand knots made in two parallel ropes or cords. The variations are differentiated by the way in which the overhand knots interweave and in the final arrangement of the knot. [3] To show if a young couple's love would last, each would take a small limb of a tree and tie a lovers knot. If the knot held and grew for approximately a year, their love would stay true.

Examples in literature

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.

Overhand knot

The overhand knot, also known as a a knot and half knot, is one of the most fundamental knots, and it forms the basis of many others, including the simple noose, overhand loop, angler's loop, reef knot, fisherman's knot, and water knot. The overhand knot is a stopper, especially when used alone, and hence it is very secure, to the point of jamming badly. It should be used if the knot is intended to be permanent. It is often used to prevent the end of a rope from unraveling. An overhand knot becomes a trefoil knot, a true knot in the mathematical sense, by joining the ends.

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.

Fishermans knot

The fisherman's knot is a bend with a symmetrical structure consisting of two overhand knots, each tied around the standing part of the other. Other names for the fisherman's knot include: angler's knot, English knot, halibut knot, waterman's knot.

Figure-eight knot Type of stopper knot used in sailing and climbing

The figure-eight knot or figure-of-eight knot is a type of stopper knot. It is very important in both sailing and rock climbing as a method of stopping ropes from running out of retaining devices. Like the overhand knot, which will jam under strain, often requiring the rope to be cut, the figure-of-eight will also jam, but is usually more easily undone than the overhand knot.

The figure-eight or figure-of-eight knot is also called the Flemish knot. The name figure-of-eight knot appears in Lever's Sheet Anchor; or, a Key to Rigging. The word "of" is nowadays usually omitted. The knot is the sailor's common single-strand stopper knot and is tied in the ends of tackle falls and running rigging, unless the latter is fitted with monkey's tails. It is used about ship wherever a temporary stopper knot is required. The figure-eight is much easier to untie than the overhand, it does not have the same tendency to jam and so injure the fiber, and is larger, stronger, and equally secure.

Grief knot

A grief knot is a knot which combines the features of a granny knot and a thief knot, producing a result which is not generally useful for working purposes. The word grief does not carry its usual meaning but is a portmanteau of granny and thief.

Carrick bend

The Carrick bend, also known as the Sailor's breastplate, is a knot used for joining two lines. It is particularly appropriate for very heavy rope or cable that is too large and stiff to be easily formed into other common bends. It will not jam even after carrying a significant load or being soaked with water.

Slip knot Type of knot

The slip knot is a stopper knot which is easily undone by pulling the tail. The slip knot is related to the running knot, which will release when the standing end is pulled. Both knots are identical and are composed of a slipped overhand knot, where a bight allows the knot to be released by pulling on an end; the working end for a slip knot, and the standing end for a running knot. The slip knot is used as a starting point for crochet and knitting.

The slip knot is a stopper knot that may be spilled or slipped instantly by pulling on the end to withdraw a loop. There is but one knot entitled to the name; any others having a similar feature are merely " slipped" knots.

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 fiber cordage.

Offset overhand bend

The offset overhand bend is a knot used to join two ropes together. The offset overhand bend is formed by holding two rope ends next to each other and tying an overhand knot in them as if they were a single line. Due to its common use in several fields, this bend has become known by many names, such as thumb knot, openhand knot, one-sided overhand knot or flat overhand bend (FOB), though the terms "one-sided" and "flat" are considered incorrect.

Water knot

The water knot is a knot frequently used in climbing for joining two ends of webbing together, for instance when making a sling.

<i>The Ashley Book of Knots</i> 1944 encyclopedia of knots by Clifford W. Ashley

The Ashley Book of Knots is an encyclopedia of knots written and illustrated by the American artist Clifford W. Ashley. First published in 1944, it was the culmination of over 11 years of work. The book contains 3,854 numbered entries and approximately 7,000 illustrations. The entries include knot instructions, uses, and some histories, categorized by type or function. It remains one of the most important and comprehensive books on knots.

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.

Ashleys bend

Ashley's bend is a knot used to securely join the ends of two ropes together. It is similar to several related bend knots which consist of two interlocking overhand knots, and in particular the alpine butterfly bend. These related bends differ by the way the two constituent overhand knots are interlocked.

Strangle knot

The strangle knot is a simple binding knot. Similar to the constrictor knot, it also features an overhand knot under a riding turn. A visible difference is that the ends emerge at the outside edges, rather than between the turns as for a constrictor. This knot is a rearranged double overhand knot and makes up each half of the double fisherman's knot.

The strangle knot starts with a round turn and the end is stuck under two parts. It may be used to tie up a roll.It can only be tied around a cylindrical shape. If required, a loop may be stuck instead of the end, which makes a slipped knot that is one of the best for tying up sacks and meal bags. With one or two additional turns the strangle knot makes an excellent temporary whipping for the end of a rope.

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.

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.


  1. 1 2 Scouting Resources, A-Z of Knots: S-T , retrieved 2009-06-14
  2. van de Griend, P. (1996), "On the True Love Knot", in Turner, J.C.; van de Griend, P. (eds.), History and Science of Knots, K&E Series on Knots and Everything, 11, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, pp. 397–417, ISBN   981-02-2469-9
  3. 1 2 Ashley, Clifford W. (1944), The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday, pp. 386–388
  4. Theroux, Paul (1997). The Collected Stories. Penguin Group. pp. 164–176.