Confused when trying to learn new knots? We’ve put together some basic rope and knot terminology to help keep you from being confused the next time you try picking up a new style of knot.


Bitter end:

the free end of a line

Standing part:

the longer part of a line which is fixed during the tying of a knot


The part of the rope between the end and the standing part. A loop formed by folding the rope back on itself


a loop formed around a post, rail, or the line itself

Crossing Turn:

a circle of rope made by crossing the rope over itself


a circle of rope made by bringing two parts of the rope together without crossing them over each other


weaving strands of a line to itself or to a second piece of line


wrapping twine or tape around line to line’s end to prevent unraveling


wrapping twine or tape around two lines to bind two parts of line side by side


laying smaller line in the spiral grooves (with the lay) between line strands


winding strips of canvas over, and in the same direction as, worming


winding small line against the lay and over worming and parcelling to protect line from chafe and water damage


to make a Flemish coil by taking the end of a line and laying it in a tight flat spiral on the deck. Used to “tidy” up and keep line neat


laying a line on deck in a series figure eights so the line will run free without tangling


laying out line on deck in parallel rows. Don’t confuse with faking .

Short splice:

the strongest way to connect two lines. This splice has 6 strands in the cross section and is thick and may not run through a block

Long splice:

the strand of one line replaces the strand of the other line. The size of line is kept the same however, and it is weaker than the short splice

Eye splice:

stronger than any knot in forming a loop in a line


a metal or plastic form inserted in the eye splice to prevent chafe

Back splice:

splicing a line back on itself to prevent unraveling – it like the short splice has a cross section of 6 strands and may not be able to be pulled through a block


A loop made in the end of a rope either by knotting, seizing or splicing.


Rope made into a neat series of loops or circles, usually for storing.

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Worming, parcelling and serving are words left over from the old days when most line was made of manila. However, you may see these words used in the USCG exam. The purpose is to prevent chaffing of the line and keep water out to control rot. Remember this rule: Worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way.