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See also: ligaturé


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From Middle English ligature, from Middle French ligature, from Late Latin ligātūra, from Latin ligātus, past participle of ligāre (to tie, bind).


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈlɪɡət͡ʃɚ/
  • (file)


ligature (countable and uncountable, plural ligatures)

Examples of ligatures
  1. (uncountable) The act of tying or binding something.
  2. (countable) A cord or similar thing used to tie something; especially the thread used in surgery to close a vessel or duct.
    anti-ligature clothing
    (in psychiatry) clothing that prevents one from using it to tie knots
    • 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], “The Author Gives Some Account of Himself and Family, His First Inducements to Travel. []”, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. [] [Gulliver’s Travels], volume I, London: [] Benj[amin] Motte, [], →OCLC, part I (A Voyage to Lilliput), page 7:
      I likewiſe felt ſeveral ſlender Ligatures acroſs my Body, from my Armpits to my Thighs. I could only look upwards, the Sun began to grow hot, and the Light offended mine Eyes.
    • 2018, Eli Rosenberg, “She stalked the Golden State Killer until she died. Some think her work led to the suspect’s arrest”, in The Washington Post:
      He hid shoelaces or rope under cushions to use as ligatures.
  3. A thread or wire used to remove tumours, etc.
  4. The state of being bound or stiffened; stiffness.
    the ligature of a joint
  5. (countable, typography) A character that visually combines multiple letters, such as æ, œ, ß or ij; also logotype. Sometimes called a typographic ligature.
    Meronym: ligand
  6. (countable, music) A group of notes played as a phrase, or the curved line that indicates such a phrase.
  7. (music) A curve or line connecting notes; a slur.
  8. (countable) A piece used to hold a reed to the mouthpiece on woodwind instruments.
  9. Impotence caused by magic or charms.

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ligature (third-person singular simple present ligatures, present participle ligaturing, simple past and past participle ligatured)

  1. (surgery) To ligate; to tie.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for ligature”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)



Inherited from Middle French ligature, from Late Latin ligātūra, from Latin ligātus, past participle of ligō (tie, bind). Compare the popular Old French liüre.



ligature f (plural ligatures)

  1. a tie; the action of tying
  2. a binding, notably in horticulture
  3. ligature; a character that combines multiple letters; logotype

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  1. vocative masculine singular of ligātūrus

Middle English[edit]


Borrowed from Middle French ligature, itself borrowed from Late Latin ligātūra. Doublet of lyoure.


  • IPA(key): /liˈɡaːtiu̯r(ə)/


ligature (plural ligatures)

  1. bandage, dressing
  2. (rare) ligament


  • English: ligature