A Brief Look into the Evolution of Lanyards

It’s very common nowadays to have company issued IDs come with a corresponding lanyard. Not only are they affordable to produce, they are also pleasant to look at. Consider them as subtle, tiny “uniforms” in corporate offices. In events, they are also used to carry passes or tickets – with the good ones often kept as souvenirs. Indeed, the humble lanyard has come a long way.

But where exactly did today’s high quality lanyard come from? If you’d like to know a bit of history and where this ubiquitous piece of string traces its roots, read on.

An Adventurous Past and French Etymology

The word lanyard is said to have come from the French word “laniere,” which means a strap. It was used to lower objects aboard ships.

As a personal tool, the strap was first used by French soldiers in the early 1500’s. The “laniere” made sure that knives, swords, and other weapons were not lost while ascending ship riggings. They were used to hold whistles and other tools. The first lanyards were made from small rope.

Their military application would continue with the passage of time.

Making Lanyards as Craft for Children

In the 1950’s, lanyard weaving became popular among children in the US and in France. Known locally as “boondoggle,” it taught children from that generation how to craft various knots, including the box and triangle knots. Meanwhile, it was called “scoubidou” in France. The name was taken from a song by Sacha Distel, a singer popularized by her award-winning version of “Raindrops Keep Falling in My Head.”

In the mid-2000’s, the fad resurfaced in the United Kingdom. This time, children used plastic strips or tubes in creating knots.

Military Lanyards and Their Significance

If you looked at military uniforms today, you’ll notice their braided rope component. This is typically worn on the shoulder and can signify a number of things, including qualification or affiliation. For instance, the British Army soldiers wear a macramé green lanyard if they are with the Intelligence Corps.

In the United States Army, lanyards are referred to as shoulder cords. They are worn only for specific events by a specific regiment. Yellow is for Armored, red is for Artillery, and so on.

However, they should not be confused with the aglet or aiglet. Formally known as aiguillette, these are cords that have a metal tip. While military lanyards are often made of fiber, aglets are made of gold or silver wire and have a metal tip.

Today’s Lanyards Hold Powerful Tools

It’s been ages since the lanyard was used by pirates and French soldiers to hold whistles and other tools. But look around and you’ll notice the strap is as useful as ever. It’s gone beyond keeping hand to hand combat weapons and now holds other powerful “tools.”

Today, coaches and referees carry around their neck the whistle, an instrument that can stop the game. In events, it carries tickets or passes that determine whether you can enter the venue, and which section of the venue you belong to. Sometimes, it’s also used to hold thumb drives—a small storage that carries a ton of information.

In offices, lanyards are used to hold identification cards. An ID, while being a diminutive piece of plastic, is also what indicates your position and affiliation in the company. It’s a security tool that’s needed to enter a company’s premises, whether as an employee or a guest.

More importantly, the lanyard themselves carry the company’s brand. Lanyards typically have printed logos and company names. That’s why company owners and managers pay particular attention to their quality. Lanyards have a rich history of application and their history of being useful continues to this day.


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