cordage (kôrˈdĭj) [key], collective name for rope and other flexible lines. It is used for such purposes as wrapping, hauling, lifting, and power transmission. Early man used strips of hide, animal hair, and plant materials. Hemp and flax were formerly standard in Europe and America but were largely replaced in the 19th cent. by hard fibers, especially Manila hemp and sisal. In the 20th cent. the natural fibers were replaced in many applications by synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester. The fibers are straightened, usually by combing, then spun into yarn. Twine, which is sometimes called cord, is formed by wrapping two or more yarns together. By twisting together a number of yarns, a strand is formed. By twisting together three or more strands, a rope is produced. A cable-laid rope is formed from three or more ropes. In general a synthetic fiber rope lasts much longer and is much stronger than a natural fiber rope. Steel wire, often with a fiber core, is also used for rope.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.