Rope and Knots Terminology

Terminology for ropes and knots can be confusing - So before you begin learning new knots, you need to know some of the basic terms used in knot tying. You should become familiar with these terms and use them as you learn how to tie the various knots...

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

A Bight: Is made by folding a piece of rope so that the two parts lie alongside each other. 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. In either case, a bight is a length of rope that does not cross itself. 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. 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.

Capsizing: A knot that has capsized 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.

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

Decorative knot: 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. Decorative knotting is one of the oldest and most widely distributed folk art.

Dressing: 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.

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

Eye: A closed loop. The eye can either be made by a splice or formed on a bight by tying together both parallel parts thar lie alongside with a seizing.

Flake: A flake refers to any number of turns in a coiled rope. Likewise, to flake a rope means to coil it. "Flaking" or "Faking" also means to lay a rope on a surface ready to use or to run out quickly without tangles.

Fraps: Fraps are a set of loops coiled perpendicularly around the wraps of a lashing as a means of tightening.

Frapping Turns: Additional turns added in another axis to bind a Lashing or a Sailmaker's Whipping.

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. They are often used in climbing applications.

Hitch or Half Hitch: A hitch is a knot that attaches a rope to some object, often a ring, rail, spar, or post.

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

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 scaffolding poles and the securing of sailing masts. The square lashing, diagonal lashing, and shear lashing are well-known lashings used to bind poles perpendicularly, diagonally, and in parallel, respectively.

Lay: The direction in which the strands of a rope is twisted. Right Hand Lay (S) or Left Hand Lay (Z).

Loop: 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.

Loop knot: A loop knot is the type of knot that forms a fixed loop. It is created either when the end of a rope is fastened to its own standing part or when a loop in the bight of a rope is knotted. Unlike a hitch, a loop knot creates a fixed loop in a rope that maintains its structure regardless of whether or not it is fastened to an object. In other words, a loop knot can be removed from an object without losing its shape.

Noose: A noose can refer to any sliding loop in which the loop tightens when pulled.

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.

Overhand Loop: The Overhand loop is a simple knot which forms a fixed loop in a rope. An overhand loop is created when the working end of the rope lies over the top of the standing part.

Racking Turns: Lashing turns which pass between poles to bind against the pole better.

Roundturn: Two passes of a rope round an object. To make a roundturn, wrap the rope completely around the object and bring the running end back along the standing part of the rope. A roundturn gives you even more grip in holding the strain on a line, and is the basis for tying several knots.

Seizing: 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.

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

Slipped knot: 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.

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

Standing End: The standing end is the opposite of the working or tag end of the rope. When abseiling or rappelling this would be the end of the rope that we send down to the ground or landing point.

Standing Part: The standing part is the length of rope, cord or twine that lies between the working end and the standing end. If we were to abseil or rappel down a rope, we would attach to and descend down the standing part.

Stopper knot: A stopper knot is the type of knot tied to prevent a rope slipping through a grommet. The overhand knot is the simplest single-strand stopper knot.

Strands: The major components of a rope. Three strands in a three-strand rope. Each strand is made up of many separate fibers.

Underhand Loop: The Underhand loop is a simple knot which forms a fixed loop in a rope. Depending on which direction we twist a bight to form a loop, we will either end up with an overhand loop or an underhand loop. An underhand loop is created when the working end of the rope lies under the top of the standing part.

Turn: This is simlpy one turn around a spar or stake so rope continues off in the same direction.

Wipping: A whipping is a binding knot tied around the end of a rope to prevent the rope from unraveling.

The Working End: In knotting terms the end of the rope that is used to actually tie and form the knot is known as the Working End, such as the end used to tie a Figure of Eight Re-Threaded. The working end can also be referred to as the tag end.

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