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In writing, a ligature is a combination of two or more letters joined into a single unit. There were many ligatures used in English at one time, formed to make typesetting easier (known as typographical ligatures), but these were all discarded as printing became easier and less expensive. However, there are two other ligatures that originated in Latin and were carried over into English as distinct letters: Æ (in lowercase, æ) and Œ (in lowercase, œ).
While these two letters were eventually divided in modern English (and eventually reduced to just E/e in American English), there is another Latin ligature that is used in English today: & (known as an ampersand).
Finally, there is one other ligature that arose as Latin evolved over time and is now a part of the modern English alphabet: W.
opening notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner"
1. The act of tying or binding.
a. A cord, wire, or bandage used for tying or binding.
b. A thread, wire, or cord used in surgery to close vessels or tie off ducts.
c. Something that unites; a bond.
3. A character, letter, or unit of type, such as æ, combining two or more letters.
a. A group of notes intended to be played or sung as one phrase.
b. A curved line indicating such a phrase; a slur.
c. A passage of notes sung by repeating the same syllable.
d. A metal band that attaches the reed to the mouthpiece of the clarinet and related instruments.
tr.v. lig·a·tured, lig·a·tur·ing, lig·a·tures
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin ligātūra, from Latin ligātus, past participle of ligāre, to bind; see leig- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. the act of binding or tying up
2. something used to bind
3. a link, bond, or tie
4. (Surgery) surgery a thread or wire for tying around a vessel, duct, etc, as for constricting the flow of blood to a part
5. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) printing a character of two or more joined letters, such as ﬂ, ﬃ, ﬄ
6. (Classical Music) music
a. a slur or the group of notes connected by it
b. (in plainsong notation) a symbol indicating two or more notes grouped together
(tr) to bind with a ligature; ligate
[C14: from Late Latin ligātūra, ultimately from Latin ligāre to bind]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
lig•a•ture(ˈlɪg ə tʃər, -ˌtʃʊər)
n., v. -tured, -tur•ing. n.
1. the act of binding or tying up.
2. anything that serves for binding or tying up, as a band, bandage, or cord.
3. a tie or bond.
4. a stroke or bar connecting two letters.
5. a character or type combining two or more letters, as ﬂ and ﬄ.
6. a group of musical notes connected by a slur.
7. a thread or wire for surgical constriction of blood vessels or for removing tumors by strangulation.v.t.
8. to bind with a ligature; tie up; ligate.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Past participle: ligatured
Collins English Verb Tables © HarperCollins Publishers 2011
Switch to new thesaurus
|Noun||1.||ligature - (music) a group of notes connected by a slur|
music - an artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal tones in a structured and continuous manner
|2.||ligature - character consisting of two or more letters combined into one|
|3.||ligature - a metal band used to attach a reed to the mouthpiece of a clarinet or saxophone|
band - a restraint put around something to hold it together
|4.||ligature - thread used by surgeons to bind a vessel (as to constrict the flow of blood)|
|5.||ligature - something used to tie or bind |
ligament - any connection or unifying bond
|6.||ligature - the act of tying or binding things together|
ligation - (surgery) tying a duct or blood vessel with a ligature (as to prevent bleeding during surgery)
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
n. ligadura; acción o proceso de ligar.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012