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

The new Terminal app also includes East Asian fonts, emojis and ligatures, plus support for themes and extensions, Microsoft said. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft debuts new Terminal app, next-gen Windows Subsystem for Linux for power users," 6 May 2019 The report, which noted ligature marks on the neck, classified the death as a homicide. Jonathan Drew, The Seattle Times, "Developer’s mysterious dog-leash death ruled a homicide," 23 July 2018 The officers removed the ligature from his neck and started performing CPR. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Monroe County inmate, 22, in hospital after attempted suicide," 12 July 2018 In Joseph’s slaying, among the details Barrow told investigators were that one of the victim’s sneakers would be missing a string and that ligature marks were on the victim’s throat. Mensah M. Dean,, "He confessed to 3 murders, but is being tried for 1," 11 June 2018 No ligature marks were found on his wrists or hands, and they were not bound when his remains were recovered by U.S. troops, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the investigation. Paul Sonne And And Dan Lamothe,, "Missing for 48 hours: Pentagon details Army sergeant’s final moments in Niger," 12 May 2018 Police said she was strangled by a ligature, and clues included fingerprints and green wool fibers. Paige St. John,, "Arrest of Golden State Killer suspect could unlock other cold case mysteries," 3 May 2018 The tourniquet of the System was a saving ligature. Longreads, "The Ladies Who Were Famous for Wanting to Be Left Alone," 17 Apr. 2018 Her hands and feet were found bound in a complicated series of ligatures. Robert Anglen, azcentral, "A step-by-step look at Rebecca Zahau's bizarre death at Spreckles Mansion," 8 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for ligature

Last Updated

25 May 2019

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Time Traveler for ligature

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

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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


transitive verb
ligatured; ligaturing

Medical Definition of ligature (Entry 2 of 2)

: to tie up or bind ligaturing the blood vesselsVeterinary Record

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More from Merriam-Webster on ligature

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ligature

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ligature

Spanish Central: Translation of ligature

Nglish: Translation of ligature for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ligature for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ligature

What made you want to look up ligature? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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