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In English there are many words describing different kinds of long, skinny, flexible objects:

  • cord
  • line (as in fishing line, clothesline)
  • cable
  • strand
  • lace (as in shoe lace)
  • thread
  • rope
  • string
  • wire

Several of these have very specific meanings, but others can be used very generically. Spanish has several words as well:

  • cuerda
  • cordón
  • cable
  • alambre
  • hilo
  • soga
  • sedal
  • ramal
  • filamento
  • hebra
  • cordel

I'm sure there are some I'm missing in both languages. In general, I'd like to know which words in Spanish express this concept and what each can refer to (for example, in English cable generally refers to a cord made of or containing metal).

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted




Thin rope or string, usually made of hemp or nylon.


Very much like 'cordel' but made of a more flexible and soft material (wool, silk...) and usually designed with a estetic sense. It is also used for ornamentation (for example, in drapes or high-rank military uniforms). It is mainly used to refer to a shoelace.


Wire or electrical cord. It is always related to electricity, and made of a metal covered with plastic.


Like a wire, but never used for electricity (as it comes without the plastic part).


Thread, used to make clothes.


A rope, usually made of esparto or hemp. A 'soga' is usually stronger than a 'cuerda'.


Fishing line


It is each individual string used to made a rope by twisting it with another 'ramales', but it is very uncommon in this context (to be honest, this is the first time I've seen it in my life). 'Ramal' usually refers to a division in a highway or underground line.


Filament. Although is the generic word for something with the shape of a string, it is mainly used to refer to the incandescent wire inside a light bulb.


Usually a textile filament. Sometimes it is used to refer to filaments biology-related.

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