Knife Terms & Definitions


  • Bail - A loop at the end of some knives; used to clip and carry the pocket knife. ie key ring loop.
  • Barong - a knife resembling a cleaver; used in the Philippines.
  • Bayonet - A knife that can be fixed to the end of a rifle and used as a weapon.
  • Blood Groove - (AKA Fuller) The grooved channel down the blades on some swords & bowie knives.
  • Bolo - A long heavy knife with a single edge; of Philippine origin.
  • Bowie - James Bowie, (1796 - 1836) famous for the 1827 bloody brawl near Natchez, Mississippi (The Sand Bar Fight), where several men were killed and Bowie was wounded. Bowie's knife became famous as the knife used at the sand bar fight and has been copied ever since although the original Bowie knife has never been found/documented. Col. James Bowie was also a defender at the Alamo.
  • Choil - The choil is the small indented (usually semi-circular), unsharpened part of the blade - close to the hilt (where the blade becomes part of the handle).
  • Clasp - A style of jack knife where the blade curves upward at the tip.
  • Crink - A crink is a bend at the beginning of the tang that keeps multi-bladed pocket knives from rubbing against each other.
  • Dirk - (AKA Dagger) is any short double edged bladed stabbing weapon.
  • Escutcheon - is a small pin or piece of metal attached to the handle for engraving, branding, or just decoration (AKA Name Plate).
  • False Edge - is an additional bevel on the back of the blade enhancing the blade's point. This edge can be sharpened or not. The false edge can also be used for heavier cutting that might be damaging to the cutting edge.
  • Guard - The guard is usually a piece of metal between the blade and the handle to protect hands from the knife edge.
  • Gurkha Knife - a curved steel knife with a razor-sharp edge used in combat by the Gurkhas.
  • Hilt - The entire handle, including the butt/pommel and the guard.
  • Jigged bone - Bone that has been given a textured finish usually from gouging or grinding troughs in the handle scales.
  • Jimping - Crosshatching, notches, or bumps on the knives back spine for extra gripability for the thumb.
  • Kick - The kick is found on a pocket knife, and is the projection on the front edge of the tang, the blade rests here in the closed position and keep the front part of the edge from hitting the back spring.
  • Kris Blade - The kris blade is identified as one that is wide on the base and double edged. It is capable of delivering both chopping and slicing cuts. While many assume kris to most often have wavy blades, the half-waved half straight, and fully straight blades are more common, as straight blades were more practical in combat. The Kris is common in the Philippines, but, it is most associated with Indonesia.
  • Liner - The interior part of a knife frame located between the handle and blade edge.
  • Liner lock - A locking mechinisim incorporated into the liner of the handle.
  • Long Pull - An extra long nail mark/nick that runs the length of the back of the blade.
  • Master Blade - The largest blade in a multi-blade pocket knife.
  • Nail Mark - (AKA Nail Nick) is a semi curved slot cut into the blade used for opening with a thumbnail.
  • OTF - Out-The-Front. A knife that houses the blade in the handle and deploys the blade out of the front (AKA Stiletto).
  • Parang - a strong, straight knife native to Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • Pick Lock - A type of switchblade knife where you have to release the blade lock by "picking" it with your thumbnail.
  • Pommel - The very end of the knife. Some flat metal pommels are good for hammering. An example would be a pointed metal pommel, known as skull-crusher pommel used on combat knives.
  • Quillon - (AKA quillion) is a french word for the guard of a sword or dagger designed to protect the hand. A quillion can be either straight or curved.
  • Ricasso - (AKA Tang). The ricasso is the flat section of the blade by the guard , usually where the tang stamp is.
  • Scales - (AKA Slabs) the handle material pieces. i.e Mother of Pearl Scales.
  • Shield - (AKA Badge) The metal inlay on the handle of a knife.
  • Slip joint - The term used for a folding knife that does not have a locking mechanism.
  • Snickersnee - A knife resembling a sword. Archaic The act of fighting with knives.
  • Spine - The thickest part of a blade, the blade spine would usually be at the back (top) of the blade. For double-edged blades, the blade spine is found right down the middle of the blade.
  • Swedge - A bevel on the back of the blade.
  • Tang - (AKA Ricasso). The flat(unsharpened) part of the blade next to the handle. Usually has a tang stamp or makers mark.
  • Walk and Talk - Describes the actions of a pocket knife when opened and closed. The walk describes the feel of the blade as it moves along the spring when opened. The talk refers to the sound of the knife when the blade is closed. A well adjusted knife has a nice strong snap and has blades that slide smoothly across the springs (nice "Walk" & "Talk").


2005 - S.W. Florida Knife Collectors Club


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