Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
click for a larger image
top: barrel and figure eight knots
bottom: in wood

knot 1

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.
2. A decorative bow of ribbon, fabric, or braid.
3. A unifying bond, especially a marriage bond.
4. A tight cluster of persons or things: a knot of onlookers.
5. A feeling of tightness: a knot of fear in my stomach.
6. 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.
8. 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.
10. 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.
v. knot·ted, knot·ting, knots
1. To tie in or fasten with a knot or knots.
2. To snarl or entangle.
3. To cause to form a knot or knots.
1. To form a knot or knots.
2. To become snarled or entangled.

[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.

knot 2

Either of two migratory sandpipers of the genus Calidris that breed in Arctic regions, especially the red knot.

[Middle English, of Scandinavian origin.]


1. (of wood, rope, etc) having knots
2. get knotted! slang Brit used as a response to express disapproval or rejection
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.knotted - tied with a knot; "his carefully knotted necktie"
fastened, tied - fastened with strings or cords; "a neatly tied bundle"
2.knotted - used of old persons or old trees; covered with knobs or knots; "gnarled and knotted hands"; "a knobbed stick"
crooked - having or marked by bends or angles; not straight or aligned; "crooked country roads"; "crooked teeth"


[ˈnɒtid] ADJ [rope] → anudado, con nudos; [scarf, tie] → atado con un nudo
References in classic literature ?
She was splendid and robust, and had never appeared handsomer than in the old blue gown, with a red silk handkerchief knotted at random around her head to protect her hair from the dust.
He was gaunt and shagged, with a ewe neck, and a head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral, but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it.
Holding a light in one hand, and that identical New Zealand head in the other, the stranger entered the room, and without looking towards the bed, placed his candle a good way off from me on the floor in one corner, and then began working away at the knotted cords of the large bag I before spoke of as being in the room.
The Pequod had now swept so nigh to the stranger, that Stubb vowed he recognized his cutting spade-pole entangled in the lines that were knotted round the tail of one of these whales.
His companion explained the situation, and the lawyer took the paper and began to read it, while Jurgis stood clutching the desk with knotted hands, trembling in every nerve.
The trader in charge of them rode a horse and carried a whip with a short handle and a long heavy lash divided into several knotted tails at the end.
Another one was a young lady with her hair all combed up straight to the top of her head, and knotted there in front of a comb like a chair-back, and she was crying into a handkerchief and had a dead bird laying on its back in her other hand with its heels up, and underneath the picture it said "I Shall Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas.
She, too, was attired in oriental fashion: a crimson scarf tied sash-like round the waist: an embroidered handkerchief knotted about her temples; her beautifully-moulded arms bare, one of them upraised in the act of supporting a pitcher, poised gracefully on her head.
He dashed his head against the knotted trunk; and, lifting up his eyes, howled, not like a man, but like a savage beast being goaded to death with knives and spears.
Her manner was one of passionate grief; by turns she clasped her veinous and knotted hands together with wild energy, and laid one of them on the carriage-door --tenderly, caressingly, as if it had been a human breast, and could be expected to feel the appealing touch.
When he fell asleep of an evening, with his knotted hands clenching the sides of the easy-chair, and his bald head tattooed with deep wrinkles falling forward on his breast, I would sit and look at him, wondering what he had done, and loading him with all the crimes in the Calendar, until the impulse was powerful on me to start up and fly from him.
But this evening, he had no sooner ingeniously knotted his string fast round his bit of pork, twisted the string according to rule over his door-key, passed it through the handle, and made it fast on the hanger, than he remembered that a piece of very fine twine was indispensable to his "setting up" a new piece of work in his loom early in the morning.