Overhand knot

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Overhand knot
The overhand knot
Names Overhand knot, Thumb knot
Category Stopper
Efficiency 50%
Origin Ancient
Related Simple noose, Overhand loop, Figure-eight knot, Angler's loop, reef knot, Fisherman's knot, Water knot
Releasing Extreme jamming
Typical use Fishing, climbing, shoelaces, making other knots.
Caveat Spills if the standing part is pulled forcibly in the wrong direction
ABoK 514
Conway Notation 3
A/B notation 31
The use of two overhand knots, one used as a stopper.

The overhand knot is one of the most fundamental knots, and it forms the basis of many others, including the simple noose, overhand loop, angler's loop, reef knot, fisherman's knot, and water knot. The overhand knot is a stopper, especially when used alone, and hence it is very secure, to the point of jamming badly. It should be used if the knot is intended to be permanent. It is often used to prevent the end of a rope from unraveling.


File:Demi-noeud arret.png
Tying an overhand knot

There are a number of ways to tie the Overhand knot.

  • Thumb method - create a loop and push the working end through the loop with your thumb.
  • Overhand method - create a bight, by twisting the hand over at the wrist and sticking your hand in the hole, pinch the working end with your fingers and pull through the loop.


In heraldry, the overhand knot is known as a "Stafford knot," due to use first as a heraldic badge by the "Lords of Stafford," then as a general symbol of Staffordshire.[1]

In nature

As a defensive measure, hagfishes, which resemble eels, produce large volumes of thick slime when disturbed. A hagfish can remove the excess slime, which can suffocate it in a matter of minutes, by tying its tail into an overhand knot, then sliding the knot forward towards its head. This action scrapes the slime off the fish's body. Hagfish also tie their bodies into overhand knots in order to create leverage to rip off chunks of their prey's flesh.[2]

Knot theory

If the two loose ends of an overhand knot are joined together (without creating additional crossings), this becomes equivalent to the trefoil knot of mathematical knot theory.

Overhand knot in paper-folding

Pentagonal overhand knot tied in flat material

If a flat ribbon or strip is tightly folded into a flattened overhand knot, it assumes a regular pentagonal shape.[3]

See also


  1. Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry (1909), pp. 462, 469.
  2. Helfman, Gene; Collette, Bruce B.; Facey, Douglas E.; Bowen, Brian W. (2009-04-03). The Diversity of Fishes: Biology, Evolution, and Ecology (2nd ed.). Wiley–Blackwell. pp. 234–236. ISBN 978-1-4051-2494-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Mathematical Models by H. Martyn Cundy and A.P. Rollett, second edition, 1961 (Oxford University Press), p. 57.

External links