lasso (lăsˈō, lăso͞oˈ), light, strong rope, usually with a smooth, hard finish, made of a fine quality of hemp or nylon. It is used primarily for catching large animals such as cattle and horses. Horsehair or rawhide lassos were formerly common in America, but they have almost completely given way to the hemp and nylon ropes, which are far more efficient roping tools. The rope varies in length from 35 to 50 ft (11–15 m). At one end of the rope is a running knot or a metal ring by means of which a loop or noose is made. The loop is thrown, from as far away as 30 ft (9 m), around the horns or the feet of an animal and drawn tight. The lasso was invented by Native Americans, who used it effectively in war against the Spanish invaders. In the W United States and in parts of Latin America the lasso is a part of the equipment of a cattle herder. To use it on horseback requires great skill of the rider and his horse—the pull of the captured animal may throw the rider's horse, or the horse or rider may become entangled in the rope. The lasso is often called a lariat; the term lariat is applied also to a rope used in picketing, or tethering, animals.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
a long rope (from 15 to 30 m) woven from thong, horse hair, or wool, with a running noose. The lasso, evidently, emerged as a hunting implement and was later widely used by stock raisers. It was known in the countries of the ancient East, especially among the Scythians. Under various names it has been used and is used to this day by many Asian peoples. After cattle and horses were brought to America, the lasso was widely used by some Indian tribes engaged in horse hunting.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.