A lanyard, also spelled laniard, is a rope or cord often worn around the neck or wrist to carry something. Aboard ship, it may refer to a piece of rigging used to secure objects, or to a cord with a hook at the end which is used to fire a cannon.
Dragoons would use lanyards (usually called sword knots) to secure their sabres to the wrist, and thus allow the firing of carbine and pistol with the sabre out (hence the French term of dragonne).
Pistol lanyards are designed to connect a pistol grip to a uniform on a semipermanent basis. A well made pistol lanyard can be easily removed and reattached by the user, but otherwise will stay connected to the pistol whether it is drawn or in a holster. A good pistol lanyard can be invaluable in an emergency, because it prevents the weapon from being dropped. In addition, some pistol lanyards are of a coiled design similar to telephone cord. These lanyards are intended to be less likely to snag on objects than an uncoiled lanyard type.
Lanyards of various colour combinations and braid patterns are also commonly worn on the shoulders of British and Commonwealth military uniforms to denote the wearer's qualification or regimental affiliation. Many regiments were originally mounted, and the lanyard (always on the left) enabled the rider to pull a whistle from his left tunic pocket and maintain communication with the rest of his troop.
Simple lanyards made of braided fabric with a clip attached to the end are used frequently in retail and business situations for holding name badges; the typical arrangement is to attach a plastic pouch with at least one clear side to the lanyard, with the person's name badge facing the front, and occasionally small items such as business cards, pens, or tools stashed behind the badge for easy access. Such lanyards can also be used as keychains, particularly in situations where keys can easily be lost for lack of storage, such as gyms, public pools, and communal showers.
Lanyards are also widely used with small electronic devices. With increasing miniaturisation, many cameras (both digital and film), MP3 players, and USB flash drives include lanyards, providing easy portability and insurance against loss or dropping. Electronics designed to take a lanyard usually have a small through-hole built into a corner or edge of the case, or anchored to the frame of the device; the corresponding lanyard generally has a loop of thread on the end that is attached to that hole with a simple knot, usually a cow hitch. The Apple iPod headphones incorporate the audio signal into the lanyard, meaning it doubles up as headphone cords as well.
Lanyard can also refer to the flat plastic string more commonly known as gimp.