from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A compact intersection of interlaced material, such as cord, ribbon, or rope.
  • n. A fastening made by tying together lengths of material, such as rope, in a prescribed way.
  • n. A decorative bow of ribbon, fabric, or braid.
  • n. A unifying bond, especially a marriage bond.
  • n. A tight cluster of persons or things: a knot of onlookers.
  • n. A feeling of tightness: a knot of fear in my stomach.
  • n. A complex problem.
  • n. A hard place or lump, especially on a tree, at a point from which a stem or branch grows.
  • n. The round, often darker cross section of such a lump as it appears on a piece of cut lumber. Also called node.
  • n. A protuberant growth or swelling in a tissue: a knot in a gland.
  • n. Nautical A division on a log line used to measure the speed of a ship.
  • n. A unit of speed, one nautical mile per hour, approximately 1.85 kilometers (1.15 statute miles) per hour.
  • n. A distance of one nautical mile.
  • transitive v. To tie in or fasten with a knot or knots.
  • transitive v. To snarl or entangle.
  • transitive v. To cause to form a knot or knots.
  • intransitive v. To form a knot or knots.
  • intransitive v. To become snarled or entangled.
  • n. Either of two migratory sandpipers (Calidris canutus or C. tenuirostris) that breed in Arctic regions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • n. A tangled clump.
  • n. A maze-like pattern.
  • n. A non-self-intersecting closed curve in (e.g., three-dimensional) space that is an abstraction of a knot (in sense 1 above).
  • n. A difficult situation.
  • n. The whorl left in lumber by the base of a branch growing out of the tree's trunk.
  • n. Local swelling in a tissue area, especially skin, often due to injury.
  • n. A group of people or things.
  • v. To form into a knot; tie with (a) knot(s).
  • v. To form wrinkles in the forehead, as a sign of concentration, concern, surprise, etc.
  • n. A unit of speed, equal to one nautical mile per hour.
  • n. A nautical mile (incorrectly)
  • n. One of a variety shore bird; the red-breasted sandpiper (variously Calidris canutus or Tringa canutus).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A fastening together of the parts or ends of one or more threads, cords, ropes, etc., by any one of various ways of tying or entangling.
  • n. A lump or loop formed in a thread, cord, rope. etc., as at the end, by tying or interweaving it upon itself.
  • n. An ornamental tie, as of a ribbon.
  • n. A bond of union; a connection; a tie.
  • n. Something not easily solved; an intricacy; a difficulty; a perplexity; a problem.
  • n. A figure the lines of which are interlaced or intricately interwoven, as in embroidery, gardening, etc.
  • n. A cluster of persons or things; a collection; a group; a hand; a clique.
  • n. A portion of a branch of a tree that forms a mass of woody fiber running at an angle with the grain of the main stock and making a hard place in the timber. A loose knot is generally the remains of a dead branch of a tree covered by later woody growth.
  • n. A knob, lump, swelling, or protuberance.
  • n. A protuberant joint in a plant.
  • n. The point on which the action of a story depends; the gist of a matter.
  • n. See Node.
  • n.
  • n. A division of the log line, serving to measure the rate of the vessel's motion. Each knot on the line bears the same proportion to a mile that thirty seconds do to an hour. The number of knots which run off from the reel in half a minute, therefore, shows the number of miles the vessel sails in an hour.
  • n. A nautical mile, or 6080.27 feet.
  • n. A kind of epaulet. See Shoulder knot.
  • n. A sandpiper (Tringa canutus), found in the northern parts of all the continents, in summer. It is grayish or ashy above, with the rump and upper tail coverts white, barred with dusky. The lower parts are pale brown, with the flanks and under tail coverts white. When fat it is prized by epicures. Called also dunne.
  • intransitive v. To form knots or joints, as in a cord, a plant, etc.; to become entangled.
  • intransitive v. To knit knots for fringe or trimming.
  • intransitive v. To copulate; -- said of toads.
  • transitive v. To tie in or with, or form into, a knot or knots; to form a knot on, as a rope; to entangle.
  • transitive v. To unite closely; to knit together.
  • transitive v. To entangle or perplex; to puzzle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To complicate or tie in a knot or knots; form a knot or knots in or on: as, to knot a cord or a handkerchief.
  • To fasten or secure by a knot.
  • Hence To entangle; perplex.
  • To unite or knit closely.
  • To remove the knots from, as a woven fabric, by pulling them out with small tweezers.
  • To cover the knots of: a preliminary process in painting on wood, so that the knots shall not show through.
  • To cover (metals, etc.) with knotting. See knotting, 3.
  • To form knots or joints, as in plants.
  • To knit knots for fringe; produce fancy work made by tying knots in cords. Compare knotting, knotwork, knotted-bar work.
  • To gather in knots; unite as in a knot.
  • To form flower-buds.
  • n. An interlacement of parts of a cord, rope, or any flexible strip, formed by twisting the ends about each other, and then drawing tight the loops thus formed; also, a similar interlacing of two or more cords, threads, etc.: a bunch of threads or thread-like things entangled together.
  • n. Specifically A piece of ribbon, lace, or the like folded or tied upon itself in some particular form, used as an ornamental adjunct to a costume, or to a sword, a cane, etc.: as, a knot of ribbon; a breast-knot; a shoulder-knot.
  • n. Something resembling a knot in its complication, its protuberancy, or its rounded form.
  • n. The hard, cross-grained mass of wood formed in a trunk at the insertion of a branch; particularly, the round, gnarly formation resulting from a branch being broken off and the tissues growing around its stump. This stump often decays, or falls out in cutting, leaving a knot-hole.
  • n. A node in a stem, or any node-like expansion in a stem, pod, etc.
  • n. An excrescence on a trunk or root; a gnarl or knur.
  • n. A tuft, as of grass.
  • n. A flower-bud.
  • n. In lithol., a small concretion or aggregation of mineral matter, or imperfectly developed crystal, found occasionally in schistose rocks, appearing to be the result of contact metamorphism. Knots of this kind sometimes occur crowded together in large numbers, so as to give a knotty appearance to what otherwise would be a quite smooth slaty surface. Such slate is called knotted slate or schist (in German knotenschiefer). The knots are sometimes simply segregations of ferruginous material around a small fragment of the slate; sometimes more or less distinctly formed crystals, andalusite being the most common mineral thus occurring. This peculiar formation is well shown in the eastern Vosges and in the lake district of England.
  • n. In mech., same as knote.
  • n. In architecture, same as knob.
  • n. In brush-making, a tuft of bristles ready to be fastened into a hole in the stock.
  • n. In anatomy, a ganglion; a node; a plexus.
  • n. A defect in flint-glass, consisting of an opaque particle of earthy matter from the furnace, or abraded from the glass-pot, or a particle of glass-gall, or an imperfectly vitrified grain of sand.
  • n. In physical geography, an elevated and plateau-like region where several great chains of mountains unite: a term little used by geographers except in describing parts of the chain of the Andes.
  • n. Nautical: A division of the log-line, so called from the series of pieces of string stuck through the strands and knotted at equal distances on the line, being the space between any consecutive two of such knots. When the 28-second glass is used, the length of the knot is 47.3 feet. See log. A nautical mile. The length of a sea-mile varies with the latitude, according to some authorities; but the United States Hydrographic Office and United States Coast Survey have adopted 6,080.27 feet as its constant length, the English Admiralty 6,080 feet. See mile.
  • n. In geometry, a universal curve in three-dimensional space, which, upon being brought into a plane by any process of distortion whatever without the crossing of one part through another (that is, without passing through a nodal form), will always have nodes or crossings. A knot differs from a link in being unicursal, while a linking consists of two curves or ovals in space, which, after being brought into a plane by the above process, are always crossed the one with the other; a lacing consists of three which are similarly joined together, independently of any linking of pairs of them. An amphichiral knot is one which is its own perversion—that is, whose image in a mirror does not differ from the knot itself in respect to right- or left-handedness.
  • n. In Essex, England, eighty rounds of the reel of baize, wool, or yarn.
  • n. In heraldry, a piece or two or more pieces of cord so intertwined as to form an ornamental figure. There are many forms which were in common use as badges of certain noble families in the middle ages, which have been adopted as bearings in heraldry proper.
  • n. In lace-making, a small and simple ornament projecting from the outer edge of the cordonnet, a variety of the fleur-volant.
  • n. Any figure the lines of which frequently intersect each other: as, a garden knot (a parterre).
  • n. A cluster; a collection; a group.
  • n. A swirling wave. [Rare.]
  • n. A bond of association; a close union or tie: as, the nuptial knot.
  • n. A difficulty, intricacy, or perplexity; something not easily solved; a puzzle.
  • n. The point on which the action or development of a narrative depends; the gist of a matter; the nucleus or kernel.
  • n. In hunting, one of certain morsels of flesh from the fore quarters of a stag.
  • n. A rocky summit. [Prov. Eng.]
  • n. In heraldry, same as Harrington knot. (See also bow-knot, granny's-knot, slide-knot, slip-knot, wall-knot.)
  • n. The robin-snipe; the red-breasted or gray-backed sandpiper, Tringa canutus, a bird of the snipe family, Scolcpacidæ:
  • n. The ring-plover, Ægialitis hiaticula, whose habits on the beach resemble those of the knot.
  • n. In musical instruments of the lute, viol, and similar classes, same as rose 1, 15.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make into knots; make knots out of
  • n. a hard cross-grained round piece of wood in a board where a branch emerged
  • n. a sandpiper that breeds in the Arctic and winters in the southern hemisphere
  • v. tie or fasten into a knot
  • n. soft lump or unevenness in a yarn; either an imperfection or created by design
  • n. a unit of length used in navigation; exactly 1,852 meters; historically based on the distance spanned by one minute of arc in latitude
  • n. any of various fastenings formed by looping and tying a rope (or cord) upon itself or to another rope or to another object
  • n. something twisted and tight and swollen
  • n. a tight cluster of people or things
  • v. tangle or complicate


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old English cnotta.
Middle English, of Scandinavian origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English cnotta; (cognate with Old High German knoto; compare also Old Norse knótr > Danish knude, Norwegian knut). Cognate with Dutch knot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.



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  • "A pretty large piece of any thing of a round or square form, as of butcher-meat, bread, &c. --Dr. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary and Supplement, 1841.

    May 24, 2011

  • A perfectly round knot-hole

    in the monumental mason's


    - Peter Reading, Widow, from The Prison Cell and Barrel Mystery, 1976

    June 23, 2008

  • Thank you, j. We are indeed.

    January 15, 2008

  • We're knot crazy.

    January 15, 2008