Glossary of Knot-Tying Terms

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

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. 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.

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

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 forms of 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. An example is when tying a butterfly knot.

Flake – A flake refers to any number of turns in a coiled rope. Likewise, to flake a rope means to coil it.

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

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. A good examples of a friction hitch is the rolling hitch.

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.

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 or under itself.

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.

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

Standing End – The standing end (or standing part) of a rope is the part not active in knot tying.  It is the part opposite of the working (or running) end.

Stopper Knot – A stopper knot is the type of knot tied to prevent a rope slipping through a grommet or as a temporary whipping.

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

Working End – The working end (or working part) of a rope is the part active in knot tying.  It is the part opposite of the standing end. (Working End is another name for Running End.)

Table of Contents