[ lahy-guh nd, lig-uh nd ]
/ ˈlaɪ gənd, ˈlɪg ənd /


Biochemistry. a molecule, as an antibody, hormone, or drug, that binds to a receptor.
Chemistry. a molecule, ion, or atom that is bonded to the central metal atom of a coordination compound.

Nearby words

  1. ligament of head of femur,
  2. ligamentopexis,
  3. ligamentous,
  4. ligamentum,
  5. ligan,
  6. ligase,
  7. ligate,
  8. ligation,
  9. ligative,
  10. ligature

Origin of ligand

1945–50; < Latin ligandus, gerund of ligāre to bind, tie Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for ligand


/ (ˈlɪɡənd, ˈlaɪ-) /


chem an atom, molecule, radical, or ion forming a complex with a central atom

Word Origin for ligand

C20: from Latin ligandum, gerund of ligāre to bind

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

Word Origin and History for ligand



1952, from Latin ligandus, gerundive of ligare "to bind" (see ligament).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for ligand


[ līgənd, lĭgənd ]


An ion, a molecule, or a molecular group that binds to another chemical entity to form a larger complex.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.