[ lee-ey-zawn, lee-uh-zon, -zuhn or, often, ley-; lee-ey-zuhn, -zon; French lye-zawn ]
/ ˌli eɪˈzɔ̃, ˈli əˌzɒn, -zən or, often, ˈleɪ-; liˈeɪ zən, -zɒn; French lyɛˈzɔ̃ /
Save This Word!

noun, plural li·ai·sons [lee-ey-zawnz, lee-uh-zonz, -zuhnz or, often, ley-; lee-ey-zuhnz, -zonz; French lye-zawn]. /ˌli eɪˈzɔ̃z, ˈli əˌzɒnz, -zənz or, often, ˈleɪ-; liˈeɪ zənz, -zɒnz; French lyɛˈzɔ̃/.
the contact or connection maintained by communications between units of the armed forces or of any other organization in order to ensure concerted action, cooperation, etc.
a person who initiates and maintains such a contact or connection.
an illicit sexual relationship.
Cooking. the process of thickening sauces, soups, etc., as by the addition of eggs, cream, butter, or flour.
Phonetics. a speech-sound redistribution, occurring especially in French, in which an otherwise silent final consonant is articulated as the initial sound of a following syllable that begins with a vowel or with a silent h, as the z- and n-sounds in Je suis un homme [zhuh swee zœ -nawm]. ə swi zœ ˈnɔm/.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of liaison

1640–50; <French, Old French <Latin ligātiōn- (stem of ligātiō) a binding. See ligation
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does liaison mean?

A liaison is a person who acts to arrange and assist interaction between parties. A close synonym is intermediary. A more informal synonym is go-between.

It can also refer to communication, interaction, or a meeting between such parties.

The verb liaise comes from liaison and typically means to act as a liaison by doing such arranging, assisting, and communicating.

But liaison is also used in several other, more specific contexts.

In the context of the military, liaison refers to the contact or connection maintained by communications between units in order to ensure concerted action—or the person who maintains this contact.

In cooking (especially classical French cooking), it can be used as a technical term for the process of thickening sauces, soups, and other dishes, such as by adding eggs, cream, butter, or flour.

Liaison is also a somewhat formal term for a secretive sexual relationship, especially one in which at least one of the partners is cheating on their spouse. A much more common word for this is affair.

Example: In my work as an interdepartmental liaison, I’ve learned that communication and trust are keys to success.

Where does liaison come from?

The first records of the word liaison in English come from the 1600s. It derives from the Latin ligātiōn-, meaning “a binding,” from the Latin verb ligāre, “to tie” or “to bind.” (The verb liaise is a back formation of liaison, meaning liaison came first and was altered to form liaise.)

The word liaison was first used in English in the context of cooking to refer to the thickening of sauces and similar things. Such thickeners, such as egg yolks, are sometimes referred to as binding agents. And in the context of communication between parties, that’s what a liaison acts as—an agent who binds the two parties together in a way that allows for successful communication and interaction. Such liaisons often serve as the go-between for different departments, agencies, or organizations.

This type of facilitation is crucial during military operations, when miscommunication or contradictory orders can have deadly consequences. (In fact, the verb liaise originated as military slang.)

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to liaison?

What are some synonyms for liaison?

What are some words that share a root or word elements with liaison

What are some words that often get used in discussing liaison?

How is liaison used in real life?

Liaison is somewhat formal. It is used in several different contexts.



Try using liaison!

Is liaison used correctly in the following sentence?

We need to arrange a liaison between all parties to start discussion.

How to use liaison in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for liaison

/ (lɪˈeɪzɒn) /


Word Origin for liaison

C17: via French from Old French, from lier to bind, from Latin ligāre
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012