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Lariat vs. Clothesline: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Updated on May 22, 2024
A lariat is a long rope used by cowboys for roping animals, while a clothesline is a cord used for hanging clothes to dry.

Key Differences

A lariat, also known as a lasso, is a long, looped rope used primarily by cowboys for catching livestock. It's made from durable materials like leather or synthetic fibers and requires skill to throw accurately. A clothesline, in contrast, is a simple cord or wire stretched between two points, used to hang and dry laundry. It's commonly found in backyards, gardens, or laundry rooms.
While a lariat serves a specific function in cattle handling and rodeo events, a clothesline is a household utility for drying clothes naturally. The use of a lariat involves skill and practice, particularly in rodeo sports where it is an essential tool. On the other hand, using a clothesline is straightforward and practical, requiring only the act of hanging wet clothes and waiting for them to dry.
In terms of materials, lariats are typically made from strong, flexible ropes capable of withstanding the stress of roping animals. Clotheslines, however, can be made from various materials including plastic, nylon, or metal wire, designed to hold the weight of wet laundry. Both terms imply the use of a cord, but their applications and the contexts in which they are used differ significantly.

Comparison Chart


A long, looped rope used for roping animals
A cord or wire for hanging clothes to dry

Primary Use

Cattle handling, rodeo events
Drying laundry


Leather, synthetic fibers
Plastic, nylon, metal wire

Required Skill

Requires skill to use effectively
Simple to use

Common Context

Ranches, rodeos
Homes, backyards, laundry rooms

Lariat and Clothesline Definitions


A rope with a noose used for livestock management.
The rancher used a lariat to guide the cattle into the pen.


A cord for hanging clothes to dry.
She hung the laundry on the clothesline in the backyard.


A looped rope used in rodeo sports.
Competitors in the rodeo showcased their lariat skills.


An outdoor or indoor drying system.
They installed a retractable clothesline in their laundry room.


A tool for roping cattle.
She practiced with her lariat daily to improve her technique.


A wire or rope stretched between two points.
The clothesline was full of freshly washed sheets.


A long rope used for catching animals.
The cowboy expertly twirled his lariat to catch the runaway calf.


A household item for drying clothes.
Using a clothesline saves energy compared to a dryer.


See lasso.


A practical solution for air-drying laundry.
The sunny day was perfect for using the clothesline.


A rope for picketing grazing horses or mules.


A cord, rope, or wire on which clothes may be hung to dry or air.


A lasso.


To knock down (an opponent in an athletic contest) by hooking the neck with an outstretched arm.


A tether.


A rope or cord tied up outdoors to hang clothes on so they can dry.
Hang this towel out on the clothesline for me.


(wrestling) An attack where the wrestler runs towards an opponent, wraps his arm around their upper chest and neck and then forces them to the ground.


A structure with multiple cords for the same purpose, such as a Hills hoist.


(transitive) To lasso.


The act of knocking a person over by striking his or her upper body or neck with one's arm, as if he or she had run into a low clothesline.


A long, slender rope made of hemp or strips of hide, esp. one with a noose; - used as a lasso for catching cattle, horses, etc., and for picketing a horse so that he can graze without wandering.


To knock (a person) over by striking his or her upper body or neck with one's arm, as if he or she had run into a low clothesline.
The referee called a personal foul, when he clotheslined the running back.


To secure with a lariat fastened to a stake, as a horse or mule for grazing; also, to lasso or catch with a lariat.


A rope or wire on which clothes are hung to dry.


A long noosed rope used to catch animals


A cord on which clothes are hung to dry


A strong, flexible rope.
His lariat was made from durable synthetic fibers.


Where are lariats commonly used?

Lariats are commonly used on ranches and in rodeo events.

What is a lariat?

A lariat is a long, looped rope used by cowboys to catch livestock.

What materials are lariats made from?

Lariats are typically made from leather or synthetic fibers.

What is a clothesline?

A clothesline is a cord or wire used for hanging clothes to dry.

Where are clotheslines commonly found?

Clotheslines are commonly found in homes, backyards, and laundry rooms.

Do clotheslines require special skills to use?

No, clotheslines are simple and straightforward to use.

Can lariats be used for anything other than roping animals?

While primarily used for roping, lariats can also be used for decorative purposes or in certain sports.

Can clotheslines be used for anything other than drying clothes?

Clotheslines can sometimes be used for hanging lightweight items other than clothes.

What materials are clotheslines made from?

Clotheslines can be made from plastic, nylon, or metal wire.

What is the key function of a lariat?

The key function of a lariat is to catch and control livestock.

Are clotheslines used indoors or outdoors?

Clotheslines can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Do lariats require special skills to use?

Yes, using a lariat effectively requires skill and practice.

Are lariats used in competitive sports?

Yes, lariats are used in rodeo sports and competitions.

How long can lariats be?

Lariats typically range from 20 to 30 feet in length.

How long can clotheslines be?

Clotheslines can vary in length, typically ranging from a few feet to several meters.

Can clotheslines be retractable?

Yes, some clotheslines are designed to be retractable for convenience.

Do clotheslines help in saving energy?

Yes, using a clothesline saves energy compared to using an electric dryer.

What is the key function of a clothesline?

The key function of a clothesline is to air-dry laundry.

Are lariats part of traditional cowboy attire?

Yes, lariats are a traditional tool associated with cowboys.

Can lariats be decorative?

Yes, lariats can be used decoratively in Western-themed settings.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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