Origami Glossary

Here are some useful origami terms and phrases. Please do not reproduce this list, even in part, but you may link to it. If you have any additions, please send them to Nick Robinson.

A4 A rectangle with has sides in the proportion of 1: root 2 – the length of the larger side of the A4 rectangle is equal to the length of the diagonal of a square whose edge length is that of the shorter side
Action model A design which “does” something when finished, such as a banger, paper plane or a bird with flapping wings
Adult origami Origami designs of a sexual nature (sometimes called Naughty Origami or Pornigami)
AEP Assocacion Espanola de Papiroflexia – Spanish folding society
Back-coating Gluing two different sheets (such as foil and tissue paper) together to form a single sheet
Base A combination of folds that can be used as a starting point for creating
Bird base A classic base formed by petal folding both sides of a preliminary base
Book fold A fold that involves folding one side of a square to the opposite side
BOGS British Origami Gourmet Society – a group of paperfolders who practise folding during meals (see poppadom)
BOS British Origami Society
Blintz To fold all four corners of a square into the centre
Box- pleating A technique developed by American folder Neal Elias which pleats the paper and collapses into narrow points
Bronco sinkin A legendary origami figure
Canson A brand of French paper ideal for wet-folding
CDO Centro Diffusione Origami – Italian origami Society
Chapeaugraphy The folding of a felt ring into shapes representing hats
Circular origami As the name suggests, the use of circular paper as the starting point for origami
Closed sink If a standard sink cannot be made by unfolding, it must be gently forced in, the move is then known as a closed sink
Collapse When a series of pre-creases are in place, you can collapse the paper into a new arrangement of layers
Convention A larger group of paperfolders who gather for a long weekend of paper folding – they occur all around the world
Crane An adaptation of the flapping bird, made by narrowing the head and tail
Crease A line formed by folding paper
Crease pattern The result of unfolding a model to a flat piece of paper
Cupboard fold the result of folding left and right hand edges to a central crease
Diagonal fold A fold that involves folding one corner to the opposite corner, creating a diagonal crease
Diamond base An origami base that involves folding in succession two pairs of adjacent edges to a diagonal of a square
Dog base An origami base designed by John Montroll for folding animal models
Dollar Bill Fold see “money fold”
Duo Paper with different colours on either side
Elephant Hide Not, as you might think, the skin of an elephant, but a type of paper made in Germany.
ELFA The Envelope and Letter Folding Association – a small society devoted to the history and science of folding envelopes
Elias pleating See box pleating
Fabrigami The folding of origami models using stiffened fabric or fabric bonded to paper
Fish base A base that is used as the starting point for fish and other models
Flapping Bird A classic design from the bird base, of a tiny bird whose wings can be made to flap
Flasher A class of twisted springy models invented by Chris Palmer and Jeremy Shaffer that are mainly based on the iso-area twist folding developed by Tyoaki Kawasaki
Flexagon Paper folded along regular angles in such a way that faces are hidden and can be revealed by turning the paper “inside out”
Foil Paper with metal foil on one side, ordinary paper on the other
Fold To bring two parts of a sheet of paper into contact, usually flattening the paper
Fold line A line used in origami diagrams – dashes represent valley creases, a dash and two dots represent a mountain fold
Folded edge An edge where two layers join
Folding geometry The specific geometric properties (types of angles, etc) of the crease pattern of an origami model, such as 225/45/90 or 30/60/90 degrees etc
Folding Australia An Australian society devoted to origami
Folding level The classification of an origami model in terms of the folding skill required to fold it (usually designated by “simple”, “low intermediate”, intermediate, “high intermediate”, “complex” and super-complex”
Frog base A complex base where each flap of a waterbomb base is petal folded
Fudge Factor a small gap deliberately left when folding to a crease (typically a centre crease) to make allowance for the thickness of the paper
Golden Venture A style of modular folding where the “Modules” are small wedges of folded paper that are slotted into each other
Grain of paper Because of the nature of the paper making process, a sheet of paper has a grain direction and will be easier to flex along one axis compared to the other
Inverted A point or flap which has been turned inside out
IOS International Origami Society – Japanese folding society founded by Akira Yoshizawa
Iso-area folding A fold which, when complete, displays equal amounts of front and back colour
JOAS Japanese origami Academic Society, sometimes known as the “Tanteidan” or “detectives”
Joss paper A type of paper used to fold paper representations of money and household goods of a deceased person that are burned as part of a traditional Chinese funeral ritual
Judgement fold A fold where an exact location point (or points) do not exist, and so you locate the fold by eye alone (see RAT fold)
Kasane origami A Japanese term for layered origami where many sheets of overlapped and arranged decoratively
Kami paper High quality origami paper
Kan-no-mado An ancient Japanese book showing how to fold 1000 cranes from a single sheet of paper (with cuts)
Knotologie A technique for folding long strips of paper developed by the Austrian folder Heinz Strobl
Kirigami THE Japanese word for paper-cutting, where shapes are produced by cutting a pre-folded sheet of paper
Kirikomi origami Cuts in the paper are used to extend the range of folding possibilities in a standard origami model
Kite Fold A basic fold of a paper square in which creases are made after two adjacent edges of the paper are placed along a diagonal
Kusudama A Japanese word for an origami ball of flowers
Landmark A taget for a fold, such as a corner or intersection of creases
Location points The place on a sheet where a corner or edge should meet in order to complete that fold
Manoeuvre A combination of folds that produce a given result, such as a rabbit’s ear
MFPP Mouvement Francais des Plieurs de Papier – French origami society
Mini-meeting A small group of paperfolders who gather together to enjoy origami
Minimalist origami A type of origami in which the subject is “sketched” rather than “photographed” It usually aims to use the minimal number of folds
Minor Miracle An American phrase used to describe a procedure where, given two flaps on either side, one flap is folded to the left on the front and back
Miura-ori map A special map fold invented by Professor Miura (Japan)
Model The finished item of origami Some folders dislike this term and call it a “design”
Modular origami Where many sheets of paper are folded into (often) identical units or modules These are then slotted together to form larger geometric designs
Module A single element of a modular design
Money folding The use of bank notes to create origami designs
Mountain fold A crease formed by folding paper away from you and underneath Opposite of valley fold
Movement arrow A curved arrow used in origami diagrams to show the direction in which the paper moves
Multi piece origami An origami technique which creates subjects from more than one sheet of paper For instance, the body and head my use different sheets
NOA Nipponese Origami Association – Japanese origami society
Noshi Special ornamental folds that are traditionally attached to gift packages in Japan
OD Origami Deutschland – Germand folding society formed by Paulo Mulatinho
One crease origami A technique proposed by the British paperfolder Paul Jackson, who explored the many unusual and surprising results possible by adding just a single crease to a sheet
Origami A Japanese word meaning ‘folding paper’
OSN Origami Societeit Nederland, Dutch origami organisation
OUSA Origami USA – an American folding group
Painting with paper A technique which uses two different coloured sides to “paint” a simple, stylised scene or subject
Pajarita Spanish for little bird, a traditional form originating in Spain and probably other parts of Europe
Paper plane A specialised type of origami which can fly!
PCOC The Pacific Coast Origami Conference – one of the two major conventions held in America
Petal fold A technique where a layer is lifted up and the sides are narrowed to form a point
Poppadom People Out Practising Paperfolding And Dining On Masala – a group of folders who enjoy Indian food See BOGS
Precreasing The process of adding creases, then unfolding They are used later on in the sequence to help complete the model
Preliminary base A simple and elegant base formed using “union jack” creases
Pure origami A style of origami where the paper isn’t cut , glued or decorated)
Pureland origami A style invented by the British paperfolder John Smith where you are limited to mountain and valley folds only
RAT An abbreviation meaning ‘right about there’, where no location creases exist, hence “RAT fold” (see judgement fold)
Raw edge The edge of a single layer, one of the original outside edges of the square
Rabbit’s ear A technique that forms a small triangular flap
Reference Finder A computer pogram designed by Robert Lang A numerical or algebraic expression for the coordinates of a point or line is typed in ReferenceFinder returns the 5 “best” short folding sequences that approximate that point or line
Reverse fold Where part of a flap is folded inside or outside another
Silver rectangle A term coined by British folder John Cunliffe for an A4 rectangle
Sink Where paper is reversed in direction along four edges
Skeletal polyhedra Modular designs where the paper is only on the edges, leaving “holes” on the normal faces
Soft crease A fold made gently such that a sharp crease isn’t formed
Sonobe Unit A classic and ground-breaking module created by Mitsunobu Sonobe It has two flaps and two pockets and can be used to form many different shapes
Squash A technique where a flap is separated and flattened, usually symetrcially, but not always
Stellated A design that has points like a star
Stretched bird base A base formed by pulling apart the wing tips of a bird base
Surface Each side of a sheet of paper is a surface
Swivel fold A technique that involves paper moving in different directions
Tanteidan “Detectives” in Japanese, the Japanese society devoted to exploring new (mostly advanced or complex) folding techniques
Tension Where paper is held in a certain position by using the natural strength and tension within the paper
Tessellation A design which can be tiled to from a complete pattern Also applied to a complex method of twisting and collapsing paper
Tissue Foil Tissue A laminate made by glueing (usually with spraymount glue) tissue paper onto either side of a sheet of foil. This gives the malleability of foil, with a more naturalistic finish.
Treemaker A computer program created by Robert Lang for designing origami bases A stick figure (tree) is drawn on the screen; each stick in the represents a flap on the base Once you have defined the tree, TreeMaker computes the full crease pattern for a base
Twist folding Pleats in the paper allow it to be collapsed into a twisted form Developed by Japanese folder Shuzo Fujimoto
Unit origami Yunnito or modular origami
Valley fold A crease made by folding paper towards you
Washi Japanese hand-made paper, usually containing bark from trees
Waterbomb A fold which can be inflated into a square-ish container that can be filled with water and launched at a victim,
Waterbomb base A simple and elegant base formed using “union jack” creases
Wet-folding A technique invented by the Japanese paperfolder Akira Yoshizawa where the paper is dampened before folding The water weakens the glue holding the paper together When dried again, it can retain its shape
Windmill fold A basic fold in which the paper is configured into a pinwheel or windmill
X-ray view A view of hidden crease lines )indicated as dotted lines) in origami instructional diagrams
Yakko-san A traditional Japanese origami form folded from a square and representing a kimono-clad clown
Yunitto origami A Japanese word for modular origami
More resources
Traditional Bench

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Rabbit by Stephen O'Hanlon