wire rope - sturdy cable consisting of wire strands (often of high carbon steel) usually wound around a core of steel, plastic, or vegetable fiber (e.g., sisal). Steel and plastic cores provide greater strength; fiber cores provide greater flexibility. Wire rope is used in a wide range of service, such as over head cranes, elevators, and ski lifts. Wire rope requires lubrication to reduce friction between wires, between the core and adjacent wires, and between the rope and external abrasive surfaces; the lubricant must also provide corrosion protection. Depending on the type of rope and application, wire rope can be lubricated with petrolatum, asphalt-base compounds, light petroleum oil, or grease.