Definition of ligature in US English:



  • 1A thing used for tying or binding something tightly.

    • ‘The organ was then suspended, by means of a ligature placed around the basilar artery, in a vessel containing 10% formaldehyde solution.’
    • ‘Her hands were tied together so tightly that the ligature was cutting into the skin.’
    • ‘It appears the children took the little boy from his home to a remote area and, from the evidence of ligatures around his neck, tried to hang him.’
    • ‘Frowning intently, he unwinds his orange turban, knots it in a ligature around his right biceps, and starts pumping his arm.’
    • ‘Tourniquets, ligatures, and compression bandages should not be used.’
    • ‘In particular, they are questioning a fracture on the right side of Shipman's neck, which they claim is not consistent with being caused by the knot of the ligature.’
    • ‘The ligature had been secured to a wall fixture.’
    • ‘He said marks on his body, including bruises on different parts of his head were not, in his opinion, suspicious, and had probably been caused when he was freed from the ligature and during subsequent resuscitation attempts.’
    • ‘If bony tissue is not palpable, the application of a ligature around the pedicle allows the digit to fall off.’
    • ‘The scrub person can be alert for oozing or plan for more ties, ligatures, or clips.’
    • ‘The ligatures were kept in position to cause accumulation of microbial dental plaque during the experimental period.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘He was careful not to leave fingerprints at the crime scenes and he strangled all his victims with ligatures (cords, ropes, etc.) rather than murder them violently, leaving lots of blood and gore on the murder scenes.’
    • ‘At windswept Dens, he has a near-death experience when he is almost throttled by his own comb-over, 18-inch strands entwining in the gale to form a deadly ligature.’
    • ‘The 48-year-old had suffered appalling head injuries and also had a ligature around her neck.’
    • ‘A ligature made from an old sheet and a dressing gown cord were left in the landing and an unusual handwritten note left in the rent book.’
    • ‘A typical rodent model of chronic pain involves tying a temporary ligature around the sciatic nerve.’
    • ‘First, if a ligature is tied around the fertilized egg to prevent communication between the anterior and posterior regions, the result is a gap in the body plan, with some regions failing to develop.’
    • ‘She said death could occur in such a way if a victim had been strangled or if the palm of the hand or a ligature had been pushed against the neck.’
    1. 1.1 A cord or thread used in surgery, especially to tie up a bleeding artery.
      • ‘Suture ligatures and electrocoagulation are the two most common techniques for hemostasis.’
      • ‘The second stage involves placing a deeper and more precise ligature at the base of the lesion.’
      • ‘The ovary was grasped with a hemostat, a ligature was placed around the oviduct and blood vessels, and the ovary was removed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ligatures on his splenic artery and vein had slipped.’
      string, thread, thong, lace, ribbon, strap, tape, tie, line, rope, cable, wire
      View synonyms
  • 2Music
    A slur or tie.

    • ‘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.’
  • 3Printing
    A character consisting of two or more joined letters, e.g. æ, fl.

    • ‘See the ligature (the ‘fi’ combined into one character)?’
    • ‘For others it's the ligatures, or the roundness, or the old-style numerals.’
    • ‘It had to overlap and go crazy on ligatures we had never thought possible, nor even desirable.’
    • ‘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 separated-at-birth diptych above: not quite punctuation mark and not quite ligature, the ampersand is a confection to be savored, indeed.’
    1. 3.1 A stroke that joins adjacent letters in writing or printing.
      • ‘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.


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