|Welcome to our glossary
of rope terminology. We hope the definition you are looking for is
included here. Simply click on a letter below to bring you to that
section. Please drop us an e-mail if there is a term missing which you
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- A species of banana plant grown almost exclusively in
the Philippines; the fiber of which is processed to become Manila
rope. The abaca is also grown in Central America, Sumatara and Borneo.
Abrasion Resistance - The degree to which a fiber or rope
is able to withstand surface wear and rubbing due to motion against
other fibers (internal abrasion) or an external surface (external
Acceleration Stress - Additional stress placed on rope due
to increasing the velocity of load.
Spring Line - Leads aft from the ship and
keeps the ship from moving forward.
Alaskan King Crab Line - A
specialty rope of various materials used in King Crab fishing.
Characterized by its firmness of lay.
Line - Rope with a thimble spliced into one end for
attaching an anchor.
Cord - Small diameter cord used for many utility purposes;
most commonly a cotton braid with stretch resistant fiber core.
Back Splice - A method to finish off
the end of a rope by burying the end back into the center for braids
or splicing the strands back into the body of a twisted rope.
- A stay to keep a mast from leaning forward. Can either be fixed or
running. Running backstays are rigged on both sides of the boat and
are set up or slacked off depending on the point of sailing.
Twine - Single ply twine, usually of sisal or
polypropylene, used by farmers for tying bales of hay.
- A knot used to join two ends or two separate ropes together.
- A loop made in any part of a rope, line or chain.
Twine - A twine used in binding and for other utility
purposes; most commonly of natural fibers - jute, sisal, etc...
- A post or pair of posts with or without a crossbar (norman) for
securing heavy lines; usually in the bow of a boat.
End - in tying knots or splicing, refers to the end
opposite the end in use. Used to give mechanical advantage when
lifting or pulling heavy weights.
- A combination of rope mix of different synthetic fibers to form one
- A pulley; there are many kinds - single, double, snatch, cheek,
etc... The rope runs over the sheave set between the two shells
(cheeks) of the block. Also a die of steel in the form of a tube of a
desired diameter into which yarns are fed to be formed into a strand
Filament - Monofilament polypropylene into which is blown a
special gas during extrusion. This produces a lighter, less expensive
and less strong rope, size for size, than standard polypropylene; also
called foamed filament.
- A round heavy post for securing lines; sometimes on a boat but
usually on a pier.
- A liquid coating that increases abrasion resistance and prevents
Line - Runs through the bullnose and
controls aft movement and assists the breast lines. Forward Spring.
- A period of use in which the filaments of a rope settle in together;
thus the rope lengthens somewhat.
Breaking Strength - The measured load required to break a
rope in tension; also called tensile strength.
Line - A line that leads to a right angle to the centerline
of the ship and controls the distance from the pier.
Cable Laid Rope - Consists of
three small ropes twisted together to form a single rope.
- A rotating cylinder used in winding a rope or cable; also used in
spinning and twisting yarn, twine or rope.
- Part of a cordage braiding machine that carries the group of yarns
or the single yarn like a single strand through the braid as it is
made. May also refer to that yarn or group of yarns.
- A heavy line used for general hoisting in oil well drilling; also
called cathead line.
Gear - any device - leather, rope, plastic, etc... used to
prevent lines, sails, decks or spars from wear.
Chalk and Mason Line - Small
cords of various fibers, braided or twisted, used in construction for
marking straight lines, the cord must have a rough texture to hold
Co-efficient of Friction
- Gripping ability important for rope use on winches and in situations
where slipperiness can be dangerous or cause problems. Gripping
depends upon the friction or texture of the rope itself, its
elasticity, creep (or taffy effect, as in monofilament polypropylene),
the area of contact and the ratio of rope size to bitt size.
Co-Polymer - A naturally occurring or synthetic compound
consisting of large molecules made up of a linked series of two or
more different repeated simple monomers.
CO² Inflatable Lifejacket - Used to keep
individual afloat. Carried in a pouch and fastened around the waist,
inflated by CO² cartridge or mouth.
Combo or Combination - Blend
of two or more rope materials into one cord.
Composite Rope - A combination of polypropylene/polyester
or other combinations of fiber types.
- String, line, rope, twisted or braided, generally refers to small
sizes one inch diameter and under.
- A floating line, braided or twisted, made of regular or foamed
polypropylene. May have nylon or polyester protective covering for
greater abrasion resistance; also called float line.
- An exceptionally tight twist given to rope used in the crab fishing
industry. The hard lay is necessary to prevent hockling.
Trap Line - A small diameter cord used for lifting crab
traps. May be twisted or braided. Cotton is the most common though
various fibers may be used.
- Manila rope spliced to the end of a wire rope drilling line.
- The "taffy effect" - a slow flow of synthetic material such as
polypropylene under high temperature or great pressure.
- To bend, kink, curl or wave a fiber to give it more loft.
Splice - Braiding or splicing the end of a rope into itself
to prevent fraying and unraveling. An alternative to whipping.
Cord - Small diameter cord used for drapery, traverse
cords, etc. Most commonly made of braided cotton with various fiber
- DuPont trademark for polyester.
Diamond Braid - Cordage construction with 8, 12 or 16
strands of fibers braided under and over each other in a circular
direction. The center of the rope may be hollow, such as in a hollow
braid, allowing for easy splicing; or it may have a center rope of
parallel fibers. It is generally stronger than solid braid, but not as
strong as twisted or braid on braid cordage.
Dielectric - A non-conductor or poor conductor of
electricity. Polypropylene has excellent dielectric properties.
Braid - Cordage construction with a jacket braided over a
braided rope core; two ropes in one. A very strong and flexible rope
that doesn't hockle, kink or rotate under a load. It is spliceable;
also called braid on braid, double spliceable braid and yacht braid.
- In sailing, tackle lifted to the boom gooseneck to keep a proper
strain on the forward edge of the sail.
Cord - Braided cord of small diameter made usually of
cotton with various types of fiber core, such as fiberglass,
polyester, etc. Used as draw cords, traverse cords and curtain cords.
- Partially closing the knot by drawing up the knot to make sure the
knot is tied correctly.
Dynamic Loading - A sudden or rapid force applied to a rope
caused by stopping, jerking, swinging, etc. In some cases, the force
may be two, three, or even more times the normal load involved. For
example, picking up a tow on a slack line or stopping a falling
object, can cause a dynamic loading of a rope. Working loads do not
apply under such conditions.
Easing Out Line - A length of line
that is secured at one end, with a bight thrown over the hook on a
hose and run back to a cleat, allowing the hose to be gently
retrieved. Used during high line operations.
Strand - A plaited (or braided) construction of eight
strands; usually found in large sizes for mooring, shipping and towing
uses. Exhibits no torque in heavy towing. Made of various fibers.
Recovery - The degree that a fiber, yarn, or
cord will return to its original size and shape after deformation from
- The deformation in the direction of load
caused by a tensile force. Elongation is measured in units of length
(e.g. millimeters, inches) or calculated as a percentage of the
original specimen length. Elongation may be measured at any specified
load or at the breaking load.
- An end is simply one of the twisted yarns that make
up the strand. Use either 1, 2, 3, or more ends to make a strand in a
covered braid. There can be more ends in a core braid.
- To push a melted resin through small tube shaped dies, thus forming
a single fiber, as in monofilament or multifilament polypropylene.
Split film polypropylene is extruded into sheets of plastic and split
into ribbon-like fibers that are twisted into rope.
- A temporary or permanent loop in a line.
Splice - A fixed loop formed in the end of a line by
splicing the end back into its standing part.
- A unit of measurement. One fathom is approximately six feet.
- A natural or synthetic filament capable of being spun into yarn.
Fibrillated - An extruded filament used in making rope.
When a single filament is laid out, it resembles a net of loosely
A tapering pin used to open the strands of a rope prior to splicing.
It is sometimes hollow.
Length - A fid length equals 21 times the diameter of the
rope or 7 times the circumference.
for a more detailed definition.
Click Here to go to
the Fid Length Table.
- A fine or thinly spun thread; a fiber.
- Method of disposing a line by coiling it tightly flat
on deck with the second inside the first, and so on.
Line - A braided or twisted rope made primarily of foamed
or regular polypropylene so that it floats; also called cork line or
- A monofilament polypropylene into which gas is blown during
extrusion. This produces a lighter weight, less expensive, less strong
rope size for size than standard polypropylene.
- Rope making equipment which combines and twists several yarns into a
Forward Spring Line - Leads forward from the
ship and keeps the ship from moving aft.
Four Stage Construction -
A manufacturing process for making three strand twisted rope. The four
- Twisting fibers into one ply yarn
- Twisting these yarns into three ply yarn
- Forming the strand
- Twisting three strands together into finished
Friction Hitch - A knot tied to another rope, or an object
so that it can be adjusted (slid), but stays in place (from friction)
when the load is on the standing part.
Genoa Jib - An oversized jib which overlaps
the mainsail and is controlled outside the rigging and is used chiefly
in races to give a boat more speed.
- In sailing, a fitting which holds the boom to the mast.
- Lines used for steadying, guiding or holding something.
Halyard - A line used to hoist or lower a
sail or a flag.
- The feel of rope to the touch, its roughness,
- A small diameter rope managed chiefly by direct contact with the
hands; used in fishing and in the utilities industries.
- A looped bundle of cordage. A means of packaging rope or cords by
winding it into a series of loops and tying them about the center.
- A heavy line of fiber that is over 5" in circumference, used in mooring or towing vessels.
Heading Twine - A small diameter twine usually of braided
nylon used by commercial fishermen for tying pot heads.
Resistance - The ability of fibers and ropes to resist
breakdown, loss of strength, at high temperatures. Heat resistance is
normally an inherent property of the fiber used in manufacturing
- Light cotton cord or sash, weighted line
thrown across to a ship or pier when coming alongside to act as a
messenger for a mooring line.
- The fibers of a tall plant, the cannabis sativa, grown in Asia; also
called "marijuana" or "Indian hemp". It may also refer to a fiber
similar to true hemp such as manila.
- The Agave Fourcroydes, a plant native of Yucatan, Mexico, the fibers
of which are used in making sisal cordage.
- A knot that attaches a rope to something, like a spar, a post or
- High Modulus Polyethylene.
- A back turn; a twist against the lay that cannot be corrected.
Damage that occurs to a rope when a load is suddenly released on the
line or when a rope is twisted and the strands form a loop. A line may
look like it has knots along its length. This type of damage results
in substantial loss of strength which cannot be repaired. It
can lessen the tensile strength by as much as 50%. Braided or plaited
rope cannot hockle.
Braid - An easily spliced cord of a diamond braid
construction; most common in nylon or polypropylene - for example,
water ski tow rope.
- A double decomposition reaction involving the
addition of the elements of water and the formation of an acid and a
base, an acid and an alcohol, or an acid and phenol.
Hydroscopic - Having the ability to absorb moisture from
the atmosphere. All fibers have this property in varying degrees.
(KAPOK) Lifejacket - Used by personnel working topside
during hazardous conditions or evolutions to ensure flotation in the
event the wearer falls overboard. UNREP and boat crews wear them at
all times. Sometimes called the Mae West.
Jenny - A rope making machine that twists
several single ply yarn or single fibers into one larger yarn.
Triangular sail set in forepart of vessel.
- A natural fiber obtained from either two Asian plants, Corchorus
Capsulans of Corchorus Olitorius; used in sacking and cordage.
Kernmantle - A specially designed rope
for use in mountain climbing, rescue, repelling, and certain safety
applications. It is a generic term of German derivation where mantle
refers to the cover and kern the core. These rope are designed for
specific uses and should be used only after proper training.
- A sharp bend or twist in a rope that permanently distorts the
- A specially constructed rope with a running noose for catching
livestock; a lasso. Also a rope used for picketing grazing horses or
To piece together strands to be twisted into rope.
- Sinking line used in fishing for lower line holding down nets or
traps. May have a lead filament or core that would make the rope sink;
also called bottom line.
Line - A barge mooring line used primarily to tie up
unattended barges. A random mix rope is generally used for this
Left-Handed Twist - An "s" twist or a twist that would be
laid out in a counterclockwise direction.
- An anchored line used as a support to someone who may fall or drown;
a line shot to a ship in distress either to connect it with the shore
or for hauling aboard other life-saving devices; lines rigged to keep
the crew aboard in bad weather.
- When an individual is sighted in the water, a
ring should be thrown as close to them as possible to provide
flotation and make them easier to sight.
- The line rigged from the mast which holds the outboard end of
the bosom or spinnaker pole in a desired horizontal position.
- A piece of rope, either fiber or wire, which is in use or has been
cut for a specific purpose, such as lifeline, heaving line or lead
Linear Density - In rope specifications, means weight per
given unit of length; for example pounds per 100 feet.
Lines - A line led from the bow and stern of a tow to the
- A cordage material is lofted if it is made to yield more feet and
diameter per pound by crimping the fibers and/or loosening the twist
or weave to give more bulk per unit of weight.
Splice - A method for joining end to end a three stranded
rope without increasing the diameter of the rope. Not as strong as a
short splice, but essential in splicing rope that must be used in a
pulley where rope diameter cannot be changed.
- Also called a turn; a circle of rope in which the rope crosses over
itself, i.e. the end is placed over the standing part.
- The forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail.
- A rope by which the mainsail is trimmed and secured.
- A cord used for winding around the ends of ropes to prevent fraying.
Marlinspike - A pointed spike used to separate strands of
rope in splicing.
Line - A utility cord used for alignment in construction
and other uses.
- A fiber of the abaca plant used in making rope; also called manila
Maypole Braid - A non-spliceable braid constructed with 8,
12, or 16 strands of fibers braided around a center core of parallel
fibers. The strands from a herringbone pattern on the rope. May also
refer to diamond braid.
- Multi Filament Polypropylene.
Lifejacket - Primarily designed for carrier
flight deck personnel. It is also used by other topside working
personnel when required.
- The ratio of change in stress to change in strain
following the removal of crimp from the material being tested; i.e.,
the ratio of the stress expressed in either force per unit linear
density or force per unit area of the original specimen, and the
strain expressed as either a fraction of the original length or
- Weighted knot in the end of a heaving line.
Usually made up of 2 or 3 ounces of lead wrapped up in a rag.
Monofilament - Polypropylene or polyethylene extruded in
relatively large round fibers of large denier as compared with the
fine fibers of multifilament; usually extruded by the rope
Line - A rope or cable used to secure or make fast vessel
Multifilament - fine diameter continuous fibers of small
denier. Polypropylene, for example, may be extruded as a monofilament.
Nylon, used in cordage, is multifilament usually.
Natural Fiber - Any organic fiber such as cotton, jute,
manila, sisal, etc.
- A loop that closes under strain.
- Any of a family of high strength, resilient synthetic materials, the
long chain molecule of which contains the recurring amide group CONH:
a strong synthetic rope fiber known for its ability to absorb sudden
shock, its abrasion resistance, and its chemical and marine organism
- Any of a class unsaturated hydrocarbons such as ethylene's having
the general formula cuH2n. Polypropylene and polyethylene are both
made of olefin fibers.
- A tackle or small wire reel winch used to pull the lower rear corner
of a sail aft along a boom.
Pay Out - To let go or slack off a line;
it infers that the rate is controlled.
A pik is the exposed area of a strand traveling in a straight line
along the axis of the rope. In a cover braid there are normally 16,
20, 24, or 32 strands. Strands that revolve to the right are usually
referred to as "Z" strands. Strands that revolve to the left
are "S" strands. Some splicing instructions might also refer to
"standard pairs" since braided ropes are constructed with "S" and "Z"
strands for a balanced, torque-free construction.
- Braided; generally refers to 8-strand large diameter rope in either
a square or round braided construction.
One of the strands twisted together to make yarn, rope or thread or
twine. Used in combination to indicate a specific number of strands
Polished (glazed) - A cotton cord that has been run through
a gum and pigment polish to give it a gloss.
- A synthetic fiber used for its strength and resistance to
ultraviolet deterioration. It does not have the stretch and elasticity
of nylon and, as a result, will often last longer.
Polyethylene - A floating polyolefin fiber similar to
polypropylene, but a little heavier and not quite as strong.
- A monofilament polypropylene into which gas is blown during
extrusion; thus, producing a lighter weight, less expensive, less
strong rope or twine, size for size, than standard polypropylene. See
blown filament and foamed.
Polyolefin - A synthetic fiber group in which the fiber
forming sustenance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at
least 85% by weight of ethylene, propylene, or other olefin units.
Polypropylene and polyethylene represent this group.
- Short for polypropylene.
Polypropylene - A light weight, strong rope with many uses.
It is waterproof, resistant to rot, and floats. For most rope
requirements, it is the most economical rope to buy.
- A floating three strand twisted rope made of polypropylene, used as
boundary rope in swimming pools; usually identified by one dark blue
and two white strands.
- Specially constructed 3-strand twisted black polypropylene rope used
primarily for lobster fishing, but may be used as crab line, net line
and for various other purposes. Black color resists sunlight
- A device consisting of a sheave mounted in a block or wall, which is
used to achieve mechanical advantage when lifting or pulling heavy
Mix - Economy grade rope made from a mixture of synthetic
yarns polypropylene, polyester, and nylon. It is also called random
polypro, since polypropylene usually forms the bulk of the fiber.
Stopper - A braided tapered line used on
mooring lines to eliminate losing slack when doubling or singling up.
Its purpose is to hold tension while tying off to bits. The rattail is
usually secured to an eye on the deck near the bitts. The tension goes
from the Capstan to Rattail to Bitts.
- A smooth round strand made of several yarns just prior to being
twisted or plaited into 3, 4 or 8 strand rope.
- Four inch manila lines about 45 to 60 feet in
length used for hogging to prevent double heads from popping out due
Right-Hand Twist - A "Z" twist or a twist that would be
laid out in a clockwise direction.
- When an individual is sighted in the water, a
ring should be thrown as close to them as possible to provide
flotation and make them easier to sight.
- Cordage; generally refers to cordage over 1" circumference (about
the size of a pencil). It may be twisted or braided, of natural or
synthetic fibers or wire.
Running Rigging - All lines and gear used to trim and set
- A left-handed twist; a twist that would be laid out by turning the
yarn or rope in a counterclockwise direction.
Factor - A number that the tensile strength is divided by
in order to determine the safe working load (for new rope in good
condition with proper splices).
- A cord used within the frame of certain windows that works on a
pulley to help raise and lower the window easily within its frame. It
is generally a solid braid cotton with various fiber cores for low
stretch; a sash cord may also be used for other utility purposes.
- Cone shaped, made of canvas, open at one end
or both ends. Equipped with a tow-line at the large end and a tripping
line at the other. Designed to keep the bow of the life raft heading
into the seas.
Twine - A small diameter twine either brai9ded or twisted
most commonly of nylon; used in making fish nets, net repairs, fishing
line, chalk line, duck decoy, anchor lines and many other utility
- To lash or bind ropes together.
To close or tighten a knot.
- A small U-shaped fitting often used to join the thimble in an eye
splice to the fitting. The open end is connected by a screw pin. (A
snap shackle has a spring loaded pin.)
- A grooved wheel or roller in a block or pulley over which the rope
Splice - Method for joining rope, end to end, when maximum
strength is desired when an increase in diameter is acceptable and/or
when only a small amount of rope can be spared for making a splice.
Cord - An elastic cord used for tie down purposes, snubbing
gear, etc. Made of elastic rubber core with a braided synthetic fiber
S.I.M.A. Extrusion Technology
- The most advanced technological solution in the field of fibrillated
and non-fibrillated PP and HDPE tapes production, designed for the
fabrication of twisted rope, fishing nets, insulated cables, baler
twine, binder twine and other industrial applications.
- The fiber of the Agave Sisalana used for making cordage and rope.
May also refer to the Henequin or Agave Fourcroydes, a plant native to
- A continuous length of yarn or cord of any desired length, in the
form of a collapsible coil.
- Water - Usually a small diameter hollow braid
polypropylene rope used for pulling water skiers behind motor boats.
- Snow - Usually a three strand twisted rope of
various synthetic fibers attached to a motor, this rope pulls skiers
- To use a loop (bight) of rope instead of the end when
closing a knot to make untying the knot easy.
- A continuous strand of parallel overlapping natural fibers (manila,
cotton, sisal, jute, etc.) ready for twisting.
- A single sheave block with a hinged strap that
can be opened and the bight of a line inserted.
Braid - A construction of 9, 12 or 18 strands of fiber,
lock-stitched together. It has a smooth, round, firm contour which
holds its shape well under pressure and load. It is excellent in
pulleys and winches and whenever a firm round rope is needed. It is
not as strong as other braids nor is it as spliceable.
- In general, any mast, yard, pole or boom.
- A light, very large three cornered sail set flying forward of all
fore stays. Used on racing yachts when running the wind.
- To join two ropes by inter-weaving strands or braids.
- A rope in which each strand consists partly if
wire and partly of fiber. It is composed of six main strands laid
around a fiber core. It will show fish hooks after it has been
- A fiber that has been texturized by spinning before it is twisted
into yarn, giving it a woolly texture, similar to cotton. It is common
in nylon, polyester and Dacron™.
Standing Part - The main part of the rope not in the knot
itself, the rope not being tied is the standing part.
Standing Rigging - All lines and gear used to support the
Cord - A strong abrasion resistant braided cord usually of
nylon; used for hand-wound gasoline engine starters and other utility
- Runs through the stern chock to control
forward movement and assists the breast lines. Aft Spring.
Knot - Used to stop the rope from pulling through a cleat,
hole or pulley.
- Yarns twisted together form a strand. Strands twisted or plaited
together form a rope.
Stringing Line - A line used for extending a wire or
Synthetic Fiber - Any non-organic fiber used in rope
or cordage manufacture.
Tackle - Also called block and tackle. A means of
gaining leverage by a line run through one or more blocks; usually two
or more. The number of lines which support the load determine the
Tarred - A coating of tar applied to various fibers,
ropes, manila, nylon, etc. to limit absorbency.
Tensile Strength - The resistance of rope to a force
tending to break it; also called breaking strength, or the force that
must be applied to break a rope.
Texturize - To process fibers in such a way as to
ass texture and/or loft to the fiber.
Thimble - Metal ring or eyelet around which a line
is spliced. The line fits into the concave outside; the convex inside
bears the strain and wear.
Timberheads - The end of a rib in a ship's frame that
projects above the deck and is used as a bollard.
Topline - Also called float line or cork line; a
floating line on top of a net.
Torque - The tendency of a rope to rotate under a
Tow - To pull; also, one or more barges or other
floating vessels in charge of a self-propelled vessel which is
transporting it or them.
Trot Line - In fishing, a comparatively short set
line used near shore or along streams.
Truck Rope - Three strand polypropylene rope made to
meet the standards established by the State of California, for holding
down cargo or canvas in heavy truck transporting.
U.V. Resistance - Ability of a rope fiber to
withstand decay due to the damaging effect of the ultraviolet rays of
Venetian Blind Cord - A braided cord generally of nylon or
cotton with various fiber cores.
Webbing - A sturdy fabric woven in narrow widths for
use where strength is required as for seat belts, head bands, etc.
Welt Cord - A tape covered cord sewn into a seam as
reinforcement or trimming.
Whipping - A cord thread used to lash or bind the
end of a rope to prevent unlaying.
End - The end of a rope being worked into a knot.
Working Load - Also known as working strength; the
weight in pounds that is recommended for safe working conditions. It
is applied to new rope in good condition with appropriate splices and
only under normal service conditions. Where dynamic loading may occur,
the recommended working load should be adjusted accordingly.
Yacht Braid - A braid on braid, double spliceable
cord used as running rigging in sailing; usually polyester over
Yarn - Long fibers or filaments twisted together.
Lifejacket - Primarily designed for
pack-carrying troops in an amphibious operation. It will keep an
individual afloat even with a full pack of gear.
Z-Twist - Right handed twist; A twist that would be
laid out by turning the yarn or rope in a clockwise direction.