a. A compact intersection of interlaced material, such as cord, ribbon, or rope.
b. A fastening made by tying together lengths of material, such as rope, in a prescribed way.
- A decorative bow of ribbon, fabric, or braid.
- A unifying bond, especially a marriage bond.
- A tight cluster of persons or things: a knot of onlookers.
- A feeling of tightness: a knot of fear in my stomach.
- A complex problem.
a. A hard place or lump, especially on a tree, at a point from which a stem or branch grows.
b. The round, often darker cross section of such a lump as it appears on a piece of cut lumber. Also called node .
- A protuberant growth or swelling in a tissue: a knot in a gland.
a. Nautical A division on a log line used to measure the speed of a ship.
b. Abbr. kn. or kt. A unit of speed, one nautical mile per hour, approximately 1.85 kilometers (1.15 statute miles) per hour.
c. A distance of one nautical mile.
- Mathematics A closed loop that is embedded in three-dimensional space and that can be intertwined with or tangled in itself, but that cannot intersect itself.
verbknot·ted, knot·ting, knots
- To tie in or fasten with a knot or knots.
- To snarl or entangle.
- To cause to form a knot or knots.
- To form a knot or knots.
- To become snarled or entangled.
Origin of knot
Middle English from
Old English cnotta Word History:
In nautical usage, knot
is a unit of speed, not of distance, and has a built-in meaning of “per hour.” A ship is said to travel at ten knots
(and not ten knots per hour
). Although the knot is defined as one nautical mile per hour, the similarity in sound between knot
and nautical mile
is entirely coincidental. The unit called the knot
originated in a traditional method of measuring the speed of ships in use at least since the 16th century. A long rope was knotted at fixed intervals, wound on a spool, and tied to the end of a large wooden wedge, called the chip log
or just log.
When the log was thrown into the water, it would remain in roughly the same place where it splashed down. As the ship moved away, the rope would pay out and sailors would count the number of knots in the rope that were paid out over a fixed stretch of time, usually measured with a sand hourglass. Eventually, the calculation of speed using this method was made easier by knotting the rope at intervals of 47 feet and 3 inches and using an hourglass that ran out after 30 seconds. If one knot in the rope was paid out during this time, the ship was said to be moving at one knot, or one nautical mile per hour. Because of adjustments in the standard values of units of measurement over the years, a 28-second interval of time is now used in calculating a ship's speed using a rope in this way, but the basic principle remains the same.
top: barrel and figure eight knots
bottom: in wood
Either of two migratory sandpipers of the genus Calidris that breed in Arctic regions, especially the red knot.
Origin of knot
Middle English of Scandinavian origin
- A looping of a piece of string or of any other long, flexible material that cannot be untangled without passing one or both ends of the material through its loops.
- Climbers must make sure that all knots are both secure and of types that will not weaken the rope.
- (of hair, etc) A tangled clump.
- The nurse was brushing knots from the protesting child's hair.
- A maze-like pattern.
- (mathematics) A non-self-intersecting closed curve in (e.g., three-dimensional) space that is an abstraction of a knot (in sense 1 above).
- A knot can be defined as a non-self-intersecting broken line whose endpoints coincide: when such a knot is constrained to lie in a plane, then it is simply a polygon.
- A knot in its original sense can be modeled as a mathematical knot (link) as follows: if the knot is made with a single piece of rope, then abstract the shape of that rope and then extend the working end to merge it with the standing end, yielding a mathematical knot. If the knot is attached to a metal ring, then that metal ring can be modeled as a trivial knot and the pair of knots become a link. If more than one mathematical knot (link) can be thus obtained, then the simplest one (avoiding detours) is probably the one which one would want.
- A difficult situation.
- I got into a knot when I inadvertently insulted a policeman.
- The whorl left in lumber by the base of a branch growing out of the tree's trunk.
- When preparing to tell stories at a campfire, I like to set aside a pile of pine logs with lots of knots, since they burn brighter and make dramatic pops and cracks.
- Local swelling in a tissue area, especially skin, often due to injury.
- Jeremy had a knot on his head where he had bumped it on the bedframe.
- A protuberant joint in a plant.
- Any knob, lump, swelling, or protuberance.
- The point on which the action of a story depends; the gist of a matter.
- the knot of the tale
- (engineering) A node.
- A kind of epaulet; a shoulder knot.
- A group of people or things.
- A bond of union; a connection; a tie.
- get knotted
- Gordian knot
- granny knot
- knot theory
(third-person singular simple present knots, present participle knotting, simple past and past participle knotted)
- To form into a knot; to tie with a knot or knots.
- We knotted the ends of the rope to keep it from unravelling.
- To form wrinkles in the forehead, as a sign of concentration, concern, surprise, etc.
- She knotted her brow in concentration while attempting to unravel the tangled strands.
- To unite closely; to knit together.
From Old English cnotta, from Proto-Germanic *knuttan-; (cognate with Old High German knoto (German Knoten, Dutch knot, Low German Knütte); compare also Old Norse knútr > Danish knude, Swedish knut, Norwegian knute, Icelandic hnútur). Probably ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *nod- (“to bind”), cf. Latin nodus and its Romance successors.
- (nautical) A unit of speed, equal to one nautical mile per hour.
- Cedric claimed his old yacht could make 12 knots.
- (slang) A nautical mile (incorrectly)
From the practice of counting the number of knots in the log-line (as it plays out) in a standard time. Traditionally spaced at one every 1/120th of a mile.
(plural knots or knot)
- One of a variety of shore birds; the red-breasted sandpiper (variously Calidris canutus or Tringa canutus).
Supposed to be derived from the name of King Canute, with whom the bird was a favourite article of food. See the species epithet canutus.