A cable is two or more wires running side by side and bonded, twisted, or braided together to form a single assembly. The term originally referred to a nautical line of specific length where multiple ropes, each laid clockwise, are then laid together anti-clockwise and shackled to produce a strong thick line, resistant to water absorption, that was used to anchor large ships. In mechanics, cables, otherwise known as wire ropes, are used for lifting, hauling, and towing or conveying force through tension.
In electrical engineering cables are used to carry electric currents. An optical cable contains one or more optical fibers in a protective jacket that supports the fibers.
Electrical cables are extensively used in building wiring for lighting, power and control circuits permanently installed in buildings. Since all the circuit conductors required can be installed in a cable at one time, installation labor is saved compared to certain other wiring methods. Cables are extensively used in electronic devices for power and signal circuits. Long-distance communication takes place over undersea cables. Power cables are used for bulk transmission of alternating and direct current power, especially using high-voltage cable.
Shielded cable is used for sensitive electronic circuits or to provide protection in high-voltage applications. Co-axial cable is used for radio frequency signals, for example in cable television distribution systems.