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 In late November, Joseph Behling, 38, died after being found unresponsive in his cell with a ligature around his neck. Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A 26-year-old man died while in custody at Milwaukee County Jail," 5 Apr. 2021 In late November, 38-year-old Joseph Behling died after being found unresponsive in his cell with a ligature around his neck. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man, 41, dies while in custody at the Milwaukee County Jail, at least the second death there in four months," 15 Mar. 2021 He was stabbed, suffocated with a pillow and a ligature was tied around his neck. Kevin Grasha, The Enquirer, "Life sentence upheld in stabbing, suffocation of 89-year-old Northside man," 13 Mar. 2021 The logo also uses ligature inspired by South Asian scripts. Aimee Simeon,, "Priyanka Ganjoo Didn’t See A Space For South Asian Women In Beauty — So She Created One," 18 Feb. 2021 Investigators said Sergie had been shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber gun, stabbed in the cheek and eye, struck with a blunt instrument, gagged with a ligature and shocked with a stun gun. Anchorage Daily News, "Troopers admit errors in affidavits for search warrants of Maine man charged in Fairbanks cold case," 5 Feb. 2021 Autopsies determined Erika Allen, Imani Allen, Damon Decree Jr. and Naa'Irah Smith were killed by homicidal asphyxia and Jamilla Campbell was killed by homicidal ligature strangulation, according to the district attorney's office. Mirna Alsharif, CNN, "A Pennsylvania mom and her daughter pleaded guilty to killing five family members," 30 Sep. 2020 Erika, Imani, Damon Decree and Smith were killed by asphyxia, and Campbell was killed by ligature strangulation, according to authorities. Christopher Dornblaser, USA TODAY, "Mother, daughter plead guilty to killing five family members in Pennsylvania," 29 Sep. 2020 Daniel Ocasio, 32, of Windsor, was found by a staff member sitting on a bunk in his Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center cell at 5:07 a.m., with a ligature made from the cloth mask tied around his neck, the Department of Correction said. Fox News, "Connecticut inmate hangs himself with coronavirus mask: report," 14 Aug. 2020

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

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ligature.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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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