Common Rope Terms

Feel lost in the world of rope and cordage vocabulary? We're here to help with a list of common rope-related terms and their definitions!




Breaking length: when the rope is hung vertically, the length of rope that would cause it to break, due to its weight.
Breaking strength: the estimated load that will cause an undamaged rope to part.
Cable-laid rope: a nine-strand rope or three-strand ropes laid together to make one rope.
Chenille rope: rope made from chenille, a tufted, velvety material.
Cockle/knuckle: a strand kink that interferes with the strength and utility of the rope.
Cotton rope: rope made from the natural fiber cotton, known for its softness and non-abrasiveness.


Denier: a unit of weight expressing the size of most man-made fibers and yarns. It is the weight in grams of 9000 meters of yarn or fiber. The lower the denier, the finer the yarn.
Fiber: a fine, flexible structure that can be woven, braided, or twisted to form twine, cordage, or rope. 
Filament: the smallest element that makes up the individual fibers of a rope.
Hank: a loose winding of rope.
Hawser-laid rope: a three-strand rope.
Kink: an abrupt bend or loop in a rope due to an unbalanced twist in the structure.
Laid rope: rope made by twisting three or more strands together with the twist direction opposite to that of the strands.
Left-laid rope: a rope that is twisted clockwise. Also referred to as S-lay.
Manila rope: rope made from the fiber of the abaca plant. The oldest and most widely used form of rope.
Multifilament Polypropylene (MFP) rope: Polypropylene is the lightest of all synthetic fibers and is known for being lightweight, rigid, and for providing a high strength-to-weight ratio. MFP rope, also known as derby rope, is composed of many fine, continuous filaments ranging from about 5 to 10 denier.
Nylon rope: nylon is a generic term that encompasses a group of chemical compounds known as polyamides. It is a textile, and can be formed into monofilaments or yarns. Nylon rope is known for its toughness, strength, elasticity, high melting point, and resistance to water and chemicals.
Paracord: also known as parachute cord, is a lightweight nylon rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes. It is now used for a large variety of general utility purposes.
Plaited rope: an eight-strand rope.

Right-laid rope: a rope that is twisted in a counter-clockwise direction, the most common twist. Also referred to as a Z-lay.

Rope: a length of strong, flexible, compact cord composed of twisted fibers. 

Rope Splicing: the forming of a semi-permanent joint between two ropes or two parts of the same rope by partly untwisting and then interweaving their strands. Splices can also be used to form a loop or eye in a rope.
Shroud-laid rope: a four-strand rope.
Tensile strength: the load at which a new and undamaged 
Twine: an aggregate of fibers that have been twisted into a balanced structure, often used for tying or binding. May be twisted or laid.
Yarn: an aggregate of compacted fibers, often twisted into a cylindrical form to form a strand.

For a complete list of Terminology for Fiber Rope Used in Standards and Guidelines visit our Rope Terminology Guide.

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