lig·a·ture (lĭgə-chr′, -chər)
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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)ligature
opening notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner"
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.