I’ve finally gotten around to creating a glossary of rope terms, intended to make things easier for people who are new to the site or to rope bondage. Sorry it took so long! Life has been busy.
(Also, this thing will be updated from time to time: if anyone finds a thing that needs explaining somewhere on the blog, let me know, and I’ll add an explanation here).
Many of the things mentioned here have other uses in other contexts; e.g. munter hitches are applicable to climbing, caving etc. I’m just covering the uses of these terms when it comes to rope bondage. This glossary is mostly alphabetical; however, I have grouped a few terms together non-alphabetically because it just makes sense to group them by use. (If you’re a bit compulsive about these things, then I am sorry for your discomfort, I know that can really suck – but hey, it’s my site).
Burlington Bowline: possibly the best way I know of making a single column tie. The one I teach in all my beginners classes, because it’s the safest one I know. Refer to The First Tie You Should Learn.
Somerville Bowline: similar in many respects to the Burlington Bowline, most easily created by doing the “Struggler’s knot” version. There’s a reference and a link to that in the above link.
Carabiner: a useful piece of climbing equipment which is sometimes used for suspension purposes.
Cinching: Refers to running rope around between wraps to pinch them together and make them more restrictive. A key element in two column wrist ties, also useful for multiple other purposes, such as preventing bands from riding up or slipping off on a knee or chest harness.
Double column tie: a means of tying two columns (e.g. wrists, ankles, wrists to ankles) safely together.
“Dressing” your rope: refers to how you use your fingers to smooth your wraps together, making sure they’re nicely aligned with your tension and pressure nicely evened out. Also prevents unpleasant pinching between strands.
Drop: a physiological and psychological state which can occur after all the endorphins of a rope scene or session fades, and can range from feeling tired and a little down to having a deep dark depression for a day or more. Can occur to tops or bottoms, is much more likely to occur if something goes wrong in the scene or immediately post scene when the person is still floaty and vulnerable. Good aftercare and support tend to prevent or minimize this.
Frog Tie: basically a rope tie where a person’s leg is doubled on itself. Often done with multiple double column ties.
Futomomo: a specific kind of leg tie with spiralling wraps, prettier than a frog tie. Usually very aesthetic and pretty, lots of uses. Refer to The Best Leg Tie Around.
Friction or frictions: Used in the context of “making a friction”, it is a means of locking off tension at intersections of rope without actually making a knot. This makes it safer and easier to undo. Often used in shibari style harnesses.
Groin rope: rope tied in such a way as to specifically stimulate genitals (I highly recommend washing it afterward).
Half hitch; a magical little twist of rope that is unexpectedly useful for all kinds of things, from aesthetic to practical. You’ll see.
Hank: In this context, a bundle of rope.
Hip Harness: pretty much exactly what it sounds like. I’ve never found a good use for it other than in suspension to support the body’s natural fulcrum.
Hishi gote: a specific kind of chest harness made using half hitches to create nifty diamonds. Pretty as all hell, and functional too. Just mind that bottom band on the torso.
Lay: “the lay of the rope” in this context, how a piece of rope is twisted together, with specific reference to tightness. “That’s some tightly laid rope”.
Laddering or Lacing: the practice of tying a limb or limbs in such a way that there are multiple bands going up the limb, connected by a vertical stem. Useful technique for creating armbinders or tying legs very securely closed. Is sometimes also done for the whole of the body, creating a “cocoon” of rope.
Lark’s Head: a very basic slip knot which is best used for adding a length of rope to another length.
Sheet Bend: another knot which can be used for the same thing; is very secure and is made by collapsing a Lark’s Head down on itself.
Munter hitch: a fairly pretty looking twist of rope which is good for locking off tension at an intersection of rope. Refer to Three Ways To Improve The Look Of Your Bondage.
Cow Hitch: a very simple knot which incorporates the Munter Hitch and which I use to finish off ties. Refer to the above link.
Play: a common term used for BDSM interaction. Why play? Because it’s fun, that’s why.
Synthetic rope: Any rope made from non-natural fibres, including polypropylene, plastic, nylon, etc. Refer to What Kind Of Rope Is Best For Bondage
Natural fibre rope: Usually this is hemp, jute, and cotton, and silk, but occasionally you get coconut rope or sisal or others in there. The first four are highly recommended for bondage. Natural fibre rope tends to have more friction or “tooth”, meaning it holds on itself better. Refer to this link on different types of rope.
Takate Kote: the japanese name for a type of chest harness. Also known as TK, box tie, gote shibari, or chest harness.
Karada; a type of rope body harness. Usually defined by the diamonds or other regular symmetrical shapes which are outlined going down the body, also usually created using a single very long length of rope.
(Hishi) Karada: a very similar harness, only done with doubled ropes! Works well if you have shibari sized rope lengths.
Scene: usually refers to a session of play or interaction involving BDSM, which of course includes rope, for the bondage aspect.
Secondary column tie: if having to make multiple column ties for whatever reason, then a secondary column tie is any of the ones you do after your first single column tie. Can be tricky to do safely without good instructions.
Single column tie: a tie specifically designed to go around a single column of the body, e.g. wrist, ankle, torso. Refer to The First Tie You Should Learn.
Suspension: the practice of tying someone up and suspending them fully in the air.
Partial suspension: the practice of tying someone up and resting the weight of only part of their body on a rope support line. Safer, sexier, and more comfortable than full suspension.
Suspension line: the rope that is holding up part or all of a body’s weight.
Rope: are you freaking kidding me? Everyone knows what rope is.
Rope Top: Someone who ties other people up. Can also be known as a rope artist or a rigger.
Rope Bottom: Someone who is getting tied up. Is sometimes referred to as a bunny, muse, or model.
Shibari: an efficient style of rope bondage incorporating a doubled length of rope. Made up of many small building blocks of technique and ties which, combined together, can form a very aesthetic and complex appearing whole.
Shibari ring: this is a piece of suspension equipment, useful for suspending people without getting your rope tangled or bunched together. Usually kinder to your rope than a carabiner due to greater diameter.
Stem: a vertical line of rope, may form a sort of spine for various wraps. For example, many chest harnesses start with a single column tie around the wrists and then take the rope straight upward, forming a “stem” for the wraps or bands to connect to later.
Switch: someone who enjoys being either a top or bottom at different times. Also known as “privileged” because who doesn’t want to enjoy all the things?
Vining: the practice of wrapping rope round and round and round another piece of rope, often to act as a finish for a tie, other times to reinforce a stem or just to look pretty.
Wraps: usually refer to horizontal bands of rope going around columns, be those columns torso, wrist, ankle.
Now, I am aware that there are many people who will disagree with some of the terminology or who have opinions about when a particular term should be used. These opinions are likely to contrast with mine.
With respect… welcome to diversity of opinion, people. It’s allowed, and I encourage it. It makes for healthy learning opportunities.