The Latin word ligare meant to bind. Ligare gave birth to many modern words.
Ligament initially meant a bandage or tie. It came straight from Latin.
Oblige came to English about 1300, meaning to bind by oath. It came from ligare through French.
Delegate also came through French, starting in Latin as delagare to send as a representative, formed by adding the prefix de- (meaning from) to legare. It arrived in English in the 1500s, meaning representative.
League appeared in English in the 1100s, meaning confederacy. It came from the Middle French word ligue, which came from the Italian word lega, which came from the Latin word ligare.
Ligare also made its way through French to give us the word liaison which arrived in English in the 1640s.
When the prefix ad- (meaning to) attached itself to ligare, the Latin word was alligare, which in Old French became aloiier, which arrived in English about 1400 as the word alloy.
Rely also came through French, though from a form of ligare that included the prefix re-, not meaning to do again, as re-sometimes means, but meaning very or a lot. The Latin word religare meant to bind fast. In time Old French adopted a form which became the word relier, meaning to assemble, fasten, or attach. When rely made its way to English in the 1300s, its original meaning was to gather or assemble. It wasn’t until the 1570s that rely picked up the additional meaning depend or trust.
All these from the Latin word meaning to bind. If any of them surprised you, please leave a note in the comments section.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Wordnik, Etymonline, Merriam Webster, & the OED.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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