The Lingo

I was reading over the start of Ashley’s Book of Knots again and what he said about the terminology of knot tying caught my attention.

Sailors have an idiomatic language of their own which provides about everything needed for a discussion of knots. A splice is put in, a hitch is made fast or taken, two ropes are bent together, a knot is put in, made, or cast in a rope. A sailor takes a turn, he belays; he claps on a stopper, he slacks away, and casts off a line. He clears a tangle, he opens a jammed knot, and he works a Turks-Head or a sinnet. But about the only time he ties is when, his voyage over, he ties up to a wharf. The word tie is used so seldom by the sailor only because it is too general a term for daily use, where something specific is almost always called for. But when a sailor refers to the subject as a whole he always speaks of “tying knots” or “knot tying“.

Clifford W. Ashley