lig·​a·​ture | \ ˈli-gə-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce ligature (audio) , -chər, -ˌtu̇r, -ˌtyu̇r \

Definition of ligature

1a : something that is used to bind specifically : a filament (such as a thread) used in surgery
b : something that unites or connects : bond having no ligature of race or family affection to bind them together— Horace Bushnell
2 : the action of binding or tying the ligature of an artery
3 : a compound note in mensural notation indicating a group of musical notes to be sung to one syllable
4 : a printed or written character (such as æ or ff) consisting of two or more letters or characters joined together

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Examples of ligature in a Sentence

the surgeon tied a ligature around the tube to keep it in place a common language is often the ligature that unites the people of a nation
Recent Examples on the Web At least three of the four died of asphyxiation from strangulation; a fourth appeared to have drowned but had a ligature mark on her neck. oregonlive, "Judge sets $500,000 bail for Homer Jackson, charged with killing 4 Portland women in ’80s and ’90s," 22 Apr. 2020 Investigators said Sergie had been shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber gun, stabbed in both eyes, struck with a blunt instrument, gagged with a ligature and shocked with a stun gun. Anchorage Daily News, "Maine man’s Fairbanks murder cold case stalls in court due to pandemic," 15 Apr. 2020 Stadtmueller was discovered by guards with a ligature around his neck and taken to the hospital. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Judge's nephew found unconscious Sunday at Milwaukee County Jail has died," 8 Jan. 2020 Police reported at the time that she had been strangled and there had been ligatures on her wrist. Nicholas Rondinone,, "Suspect in 1986 slaying of 11-year-old Kathleen Flynn remains held on $5 million bail after facing judge," 17 June 2019 Her death has been ruled a homicide by ligature strangulation, per a Harris County medical examiner. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "Heidi Broussard's funeral to be held in Louisiana this weekend," 26 Dec. 2019 The medical examiner determined Kuhnhausen had died after being strangled by the ligature. oregonlive, "Missing Vancouver teen was strangled to death after suspect found out she was transgender, police say," 19 Dec. 2019 Hall had maintained his innocence and his lawyers filed appeals asking for DNA testing to analyze the ligature found on Billhartz’s neck. Washington Post, "Texas executes inmate for strangling El Paso woman in 2002," 7 Nov. 2019 Hall had maintained his innocence and his lawyers filed appeals asking for DNA testing to analyze the ligature found on Billhartz's neck. CBS News, "White supremacist gang member apologizes "from the bottom of my heart" ahead of Texas execution," 6 Nov. 2019

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

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First Known Use of ligature

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ligature

Middle English, from Late Latin ligatura, from Latin ligatus, past participle of ligare to bind, tie; akin to Albanian lidh I tie

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Time Traveler for ligature

Time Traveler

The first known use of ligature was in the 14th century

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Statistics for ligature

Last Updated

10 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ligature.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for ligature


lig·​a·​ture | \ ˈlig-ə-ˌchu̇(ə)r, -chər, -ˌt(y)u̇(ə)r How to pronounce ligature (audio) \

Medical Definition of ligature

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is used to bind specifically : a filament (as a thread) used in surgery (as for tying blood vessels)
2 : the action or result of binding or tying the ligature of an artery
ligatured; ligaturing

Medical Definition of ligature (Entry 2 of 2)

: to tie up or bind ligaturing the blood vesselsVeterinary Record

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