li·​gand ˈli-gənd How to pronounce ligand (audio) ˈlī- How to pronounce ligand (audio)
: a group, ion, or molecule coordinated to a central atom or molecule in a complex

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The palladium can link up with four ligands at a time, which can link up with other palladium-ligand groups to form the cage-like structures; the more palladium atoms in the mix, the bigger the cages. Bill Andrews, Discover Magazine, 18 July 2018 These drugs, especially intravenous zoledronic acid (and the antibody to RANK ligand, denosumab), have been game-changers in patients with breast and other cancers that spread to bone. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 9 Aug. 2022 As a transmembrane protein, STING has two main domains: a transmembrane domain and cytoplasmic ligand-binding domain. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 Electron density maps revealed that the remdesivir metabolite GS-441524 was the only ligand that showed binding in the crystal structures. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 4 June 2021 One common example of a ligand is found in siderophores, chemical compounds that bacteria secrete to break down iron particles. Emily Underwood, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Jan. 2020 The uranium molecule complex is a coordination compound, meaning a metal center with ligands surrounding it. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 13 Jan. 2020 The secret is using nontoxic silicon nanocrystals and molecule glues called ligands. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 3 Dec. 2019 Geoff Burnstock (University College London) discovered purinergic signaling in 1972, and has been characterizing the nucleotide and nucleoside ligands, their receptors and their biology ever since. Bradley J. Fikes,, 26 May 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ligand.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin ligandus, gerundive of ligare

First Known Use

1949, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ligand was in 1949

Dictionary Entries Near ligand

Cite this Entry

“Ligand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Medical Definition


li·​gand ˈlig-ənd How to pronounce ligand (audio) ˈlīg- How to pronounce ligand (audio)
: a group, ion, or molecule coordinated to a central atom or molecule in a complex
liganded adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on ligand

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