[lahy-guh nd, lig-uh nd]
  1. Biochemistry. a molecule, as an antibody, hormone, or drug, that binds to a receptor.
  2. Chemistry. a molecule, ion, or atom that is bonded to the central metal atom of a coordination compound.

Origin of ligand

1945–50; < Latin ligandus, gerund of ligāre to bind, tie Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for ligand


  1. 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

ligand in Medicine


[līgənd, lĭgənd]
  1. 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.