Tie the Knot or Tying the Knot – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

If you want to add color and depth to your vocabulary, as well as your writing, then use idioms! The English language is full of them. But they only work if you use them properly and understand the meanings behind them. One example is “Tie the knot.” It’s super common when talking about getting married, but what does it truly mean, and are we using it in the right way? Let’s have a look-see.

Tie the Knot Meaning

Tie the Knot or Tying the Knot Meaning Origin

“Tie the knot” is a popular idiomatic expression we use in English that basically means to get married or to enter into a marital contract. It’s kind of a quick, fun way to say you’re getting married or to share that you’ve already been wed to someone.

Is It Tie the Knot or Tie the Not?

When it comes to this phrase, the correct expression to use is “tie the knot.” If you use “tie the not,” it’d be a typo with no actual meaning, and you definitely don’t want that. While all the words within “tie the not” are correct, when you put them together, it doesn’t make any sense at all because “not” means “nothing.”

Is Tie the Knot an Idiom?

Yes, “tie the knot” is most definitely an idiom because it doesn’t literally mean you’re tying a knot of any kind. But I have to say that if you follow the expression back to its roots, it does have a literal meaning.

Origin or Etymology of Tying the Knot

The literal origin of the now idiomatic phrase “tie the knot” can be traced back to several cultural practices and traditions from around the world. In the ancient Celtic handfasting ritual and wedding tradition, the bare hands of the bride and groom were tied together with a cord or some kind of cloth ribbon to symbolize their marriage vows to be tied together for the rest of time with a physical knot.

But I also know tons of cultures around the world that have wedding customs that include knots or some kind of binding rituals instead of wedding rings, which might have led to the usage of the phrase throughout time. Just the simple act of getting married means you’re tying yourself to another human being, so the phrase makes sense, no matter where you’re from.

Tie the Knot Synonyms

Some people think “tying the knot” is a little too informal for such an important event. But really, unless you’re just saying, “getting married,” all the other alternatives are just as relaxed. But here are a few options you can use other than “tie the knot” if you’re looking to mix things up.

  • Get married
  • Ball and chained
  • Get hitched
  • Wed
  • Marry
  • Unite in matrimony
  • Take the plunge
  • Seal the deal
  • Exchange vows
  • Walk down the aisle

Past, Present, and Future Tenses for Tie the Knot

  • Past tense: Tied the knot
  • Present tense: Tying the knot
  • Future tense: Will tie the knot

Tie the Knot Examples in a Sentence

Tie the Knot or Tying the Knot Meaning Origin 1

I love idioms, but sometimes they leave a little too much to the imagination. So, seeing them used within the context of sentences can really help solidify their meanings.

  • After dating for fifteen years, Corey and I finally went ahead and tied the knot in a private ceremony with just our kids on a beach.
  • My two best friends, Sarah and Michael, tied the knot in a beautiful country ceremony last summer.
  • The couple tied the knot with a small, intimate event with just their closest friends and family.
  • My best friend of twenty years is tying the knot next month, and I’m honored to be her maid of honor.
  • It’s wedding season, so many people will tie the knot this month with church weddings.
  • I can’t believe Tom and Alice are tying the knot already; they’ve only been dating for a month!
  • My parents are tying the knot again with a vow renewal ceremony, and they asked to use our backyard for the event.
  • Emma and Ryan will tie the knot in a fairy-tale-like winter marriage ceremony next year, and they’ve invited over five hundred guests to attend.
  • My sister and her fiancé will tie the knot in a beautiful garden wedding ceremony this spring.
  • My best friend invited all of us to a grand masquerade ball but surprised us as she and her fiancé tied the knot while we celebrated in gowns and fancy costumes.

Walker, 33, who recently appeared in In the Heart of the Sea, and Maze Runner star Scodelario, 23, tied the knot over the Christmas holiday after just over a year of dating. (People Magazine)

Are You Tying the Knot?

So, even though it started out with a literal meaning, the expression “tie the knot” has now morphed into an idiom we use to say, “We’re getting married!” So now you can go ahead and use the expression to talk about marriage ceremonies in conversation and writing.