How to Tie a Hangman's Knot

    by Isaiah David

    About the Author

    Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.


    By definition, the hangman's knot is a slip noose usually having eight or nine turns in the knot. This iconic knot used in Halloween decorations and theater productions sets a grim tone, as it is normally associated with executions. Because it absorbs shock and movement well, the hangman's knot is useful for tying angles to fish line.

    Things You'll Need

    • Rope

    Make a backward "S" shape with one end of your rope. Make the "S" about 16 inches wide and leave a long tail at least as long as the width of the "S".

    Start wrapping the tail around the "S" several times, winding toward the top until you have a short tail left. Six to eight loops will work well. Put the tail through the loop at the top. Be sure that there is a bit of extra line left over, or the knot could slip when you tighten it.

    To tighten the knot, hold the tail in place and then pull on the loop at the bottom of the coils. Keep the coils stable by holding them when you tighten the knot. Slowly tighten it until the free end of the rope is held snug.

    • Use moderate to thick rope. Generally, using rope thinner than 3/4 inches will make this knot a bit harder to tie.
    • Although tradition holds that the hangman's knot needs to have 13 turns, in reality this makes it unstable. Using six to eight turns makes for a stable knot. If you are using it for decoration, however, use as many turns as you want to get the desired effect.
    • Never put a hangman's knot around anyone's neck under any circumstances.