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A thread is a limp structure composed of fibers , which has a dominant one-dimensional extension and a uniformity in the longitudinal direction. The thread can (theoretically) be endless (e.g. thread on a bobbin) or limited in length (e.g. thread in the sewing needle). It is an older umbrella term for yarns and twisted threads , but it is still common in many terms both in general and in textile usage and is also standardized. Thus, individual yarn sections may be designated as a thread, but also when they are viewed in terms of their use and in connection with the designation of the purpose yarns., Such as weft , warp , yarn breakage , yarn sheet, thread brake. A thread, by weaving , knitting , knitting , tufting or further processed differently in order to produce a fabric.

Detail of two pieces of thread, above as twine , below as single thread
Threads in balls and string


Until the 1960s, the thread formed by the individual nozzle hole in the manufacture of man-made fibers was referred to as elementary thread or single thread (but also as continuous fiber). This term elementary thread was not included in the standard DIN 60 000 Textiles - Basic Terms in 1969, but the elementary linear structures were referred to as continuous fibers ( filaments ) (= fibers of practically unlimited length). From this point of view, a thread could only be a composite structure.

In the GDR , however, the term elementary thread was retained for the individual, linear structure of the textile fiber material, which was not limited in length.

A stronger and mostly coarser thread (a multiple thread ) that is used for decorative or fastening purposes is also known as a cord .


Cultural history

In pre-Christian and pre-Islamic religious systems, the cross-cultural thread stood for fate . The Greek Moiren and the Norwegian Norns stretch fate by stretching, measuring and cutting the thread for each life at the predetermined length. Human life was then woven from this thread of fate . Even today there is the phrase: "the thread of his life was cut".

In Greek mythology , the Ariadne thread is mentioned, a gift from Princess Ariadne to Theseus , with the help of which he found his way out of a vast labyrinth - he had unrolled the ball of thread when entering - in which the Minotaur was, which he killed.

The fateful importance of the thread also led to manifold superstitions. It was forbidden to sew on the memorial days of certain saints. In some Central European regions you were not allowed to mend a piece of clothing that the wearer was still wearing, in order not to bring bad luck to you by cutting the thread.

Lose the thread

In a figurative sense, “someone lost the thread” means that someone cannot complete a chain of arguments or does not remember what was last said. The origin of the phrase is unclear: it could refer to the thread of Ariadne that showed Theseus the way through the labyrinth of the Minotaur . More likely, however, is the origin from the weaver language, where a lost thread u. a. Loss of time meant until the thread could be picked up again.

Red thread


A common thread is a basic motif, a guiding thought, a path or a guideline. “Something runs like a red thread through something” means, for example, that you can recognize a continuous structure or a goal in it. The term has been used in a figurative sense since Goethe's elective affinities . In the introductory remarks to a first excerpt from Ottilien's diary, he describes the characteristics of the British Navy : “All of the ropes of the royal fleet are spun in such a way that a red thread runs through the whole thing, which cannot be pulled out without dissolving everything and on what even the smallest pieces can be identified as belonging to the crown. There is also a thread running through Ottilie's diary… ”.

Even in the first book of the Bible, however, the “red thread” is encountered as a distinguishing feature between twin brothers: “At birth, someone put his hand out. The midwife took hold of it, tied a red thread around her hand and said: He came out first. "( Gen 38.28  EU )

In Hanover , a red thread painted on the sidewalk runs from one sight to the next.

East asia

In China and, based on this, in East Asia , the common thread ( Chinese  紅線  /  红线 , Pinyin hóng xiàn , Japanese (運 命 の) 赤 い 糸 , (unmei no) akai ito , "the common thread (of fate)") stands for a fateful one Connection between man and woman or the belief that a man and a woman who are meant for each other are connected to their knuckles (in Japan also to their little fingers instead) with an invisible red thread. It thus partially corresponds to the western concept of kinship .

It is a popular motif in Shōjo - Manga , but also in television series and films such as Takeshi Kitano's Dolls .


In the Abri du Maras (middle Rhone valley, Département Ardèche , France) plant fibers twisted into threads were discovered in the immediate vicinity of stone tools, which do not occur in nature in such a state, are 90,000 years old and based on this dating were ascribed to the Neanderthals. They are considered to be the oldest evidence of the manufacture of a thread.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Thread  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: red thread  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Günter Schnegelsberg: Manual of the fiber - theory and systematics of the fiber. Deutscher Fachverlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1999, ISBN 3-87150-624-9 , p. 504.
  2. DIN 60 900-1: 07-1988: Yarns - Technological classification, terms. Beuth Verlag, Berlin 1988, p. 1
  3. Anton Schenek: Encyclopedia yarns and threads - Properties and production of textile yarns . Deutscher Fachverlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-87150-810-1 , p. 136.
  4. ^ Paul-August Koch, Günther Satlow: Large Textile Lexicon: Specialized lexicon for the entire textile industry. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1965, Vol. A -K, p. 332.
  5. Peter Böttcher (Ed.): Knowledge store for technologists - textile technology, 2nd, revised edition, Fachbuchverlag Leipzig 1977, p. 41.
  6. Yukari Fujimoto: 快 楽 電流 - 女 の 、 欲望 の 、 か た ち . Kawade Shobō Shinsha, Tokyo 1999, ISBN 4-309-24213-8 , p. 96 .
  7. Bruce L. Hardy et al .: Impossible Neanderthals? Making string, throwing projectiles and catching small game during Marine Isotope Stage 4 (Abri du Maras, France). In: Quaternary Science Reviews. Volume 82, 2013, pp. 23-40, doi: 10.1016 / j.quascirev.2013.09.028 .
  8. ^ World's oldest string found at French Neanderthal site. In: New Scientist . Volume 220, No. 2943, 2013, p. 9 (posted online on November 13, 2013).