Definition of ligature in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlɪɡətʃə/


1A thing used for tying or binding something tightly: there was no sign of the ligature which strangled her
More example sentences
  • Her hands were tied together so tightly that the ligature was cutting into the skin.
  • He had been strangled with a ligature and his wrists were tied.
  • A Prison Service spokesperson said: ‘Paramedics were called to the prison and there were no signs of a ligature.’
1.1A cord or thread used in surgery, especially to tie up a bleeding artery.
Example sentences
  • The ligatures on his splenic artery and vein had slipped.
  • Suture ligatures and electrocoagulation are the two most common techniques for hemostasis.
  • The alternative of tying the damaged vessel with a ligature had been employed by various surgeons dating back to Celsus, a Roman medical author in the first century ad.
2 Music A slur or tie.
Example sentences
  • The ligature equivalent to two semibreves persisted for some time and is still found in the early 18th century in the works of J. J. Fux.
3 Printing A character consisting of two or more joined letters, e.g. æ, fl.
Example sentences
  • The ampersand is an ancient Roman symbol derived from the ligature or combination into one character of the e and t in the Latin et, meaning and.
  • See the ligature (the ‘fi’ combined into one character)?
  • For others it's the ligatures, or the roundness, or the old-style numerals.
3.1A stroke that joins adjacent letters in writing or printing.
Example sentences
  • With a little more clarity I remember being taught ‘real’ writing, joining the letters with neat little ligatures to form an extremely regular and legible ‘round-hand’ script, such as was then in fashion for all general clerical work.
  • In this book's case, the ligatures don't serve as useful little joining devices but more like ornaments - flourishes that add a touch of whimsy to the letters and also recall, again, the flowing beauty of hand lettering.


[with object]
Bind or connect with a ligature: he ligatured the duodenum below the pylorus


Middle English: via late Latin ligatura from Latin ligat- 'bound', from the verb ligare.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: liga|ture

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