List of English words that may be spelled with a ligature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This list of words that may be spelled with a ligature in English encompasses words which have letters that may, in modern usage, either be rendered as two distinct letters or as a single, combined letter. This includes AE being rendered as Æ and OE being rendered as Œ.

Until the early twentieth century, the œ and æ ligatures had been commonly used to indicate an etymological connection with Latin or Greek. Since then they have fallen out of fashion almost completely and are now only used occasionally. They are more commonly used for the names of historical people, to evoke archaism, or in literal quotations of historical sources. These ligatures are proper letters in some Scandinavian languages, and so are used to render names from those languages, and likewise names from Old English. Some American spellings replace ligatured vowels with a single letter; for example, gynæcology or gynaecology is spelled gynecology.

The fl and fi ligatures, among others, are still commonly used to render modern text in fine typography. Page-layout programs such as QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign can be configured to automatically replace the individual characters with the appropriate ligatures. However this is a typographic feature and not part of the spelling.

Given names[edit]

Note: The variants Ædith, Cœline and Matthœo were a used[clarification needed] (see citations), hypercorrected form of the names.

Non-ligature form Ligature form Other forms
Alfred Ælfred
(prefix of various names, e.g. Æthelthryth)
Aesop Æsop
Cecil Cæcil
Cecilia Cæcilia [1]
Caesar Cæsar
Celine Cæline, Cœline [2]
Cornelius Cornælius [3]
Edith Ædith [4]
Emilia Æmilia [5]
Emilian Æmilian
Ethel Œthel, Æthel
Hephaistus, Hephestus, Hephaistos, Hephestos[6]
Letitia Lætitia Leticia, Letizia[7]
Mattheo Matthæo, Matthœo [8][9]
Edipus Œdipus Oedipus
Phoebe Phœbe Phoebë, Phœbë


The grapheme ß was originally made out of the characters long s (ſ) and z, the latter of which evolved into s. In Germany, the grapheme is still used today. Throughout history, various names have been spelled with ß. Many of the spelling variations are hypercorrected variants of other spellings of the name. Nowadays, most of the spelling variations and names are considered archaic or obsolete.

Non-ligated form Ligated form Other forms Gender Etymology
Agnes Agneß[10] Agnesse f Derived from the Greek Ἁγνή Hagnḗ, meaning 'pure' or 'holy'.
Andreas Andreaß[11] Andreiß, Dreiß, Dreß m From the Greek word "andreios", "manly"
Ansgar Anßgar[12] Ansgarius (Latinized) m From the Old Norse word "Ásgeirr", "God + Spear"
Balthazar Balthaßar[13] Balthasar, Baltazar m From Akkadian "𒂗𒈗𒋀", "Bel protects the king"
Bartholomäus Bartholomeiß[14] Barthelmeß, Bartholomæus,[15] Bartholomeß,[16] Berthelmeß m From the Apostle Bartholomew
Klaus Clauß[17] Claiß, Clauß, Clawß, Klaß m A contraction of "Nicholas"
Elsbeth Elßbeth[18] Elßgen, Elßlin, Elße f Derivative of "Elisabeth"
Endres Endreß Enderß, Endereß, Enndreß[19] m Derivative of "Andreas"
Erasmus Eraßmus[20] Eraßmuß, Aßmus m Derived from Greek ἐράσμιος (erasmios) meaning "beloved"
Franz Franß[21] Francesco m From Latin "Francius" meaning "Frank, Frenchman"
Gillis Gilliß[22] Giles f From Latin "Aegidius" meaning "a wearer of goatskin"
Hans Hanß[23] Hannß[24] m A short form of "Johannes"
/ Heinsaß / m (Unknown)
Jarosław Jaroslauß[25] Jarosława m Composed of the elements jar meaning 'strong' or 'powerful' and sława meaning 'glory' or 'fame'
Jasper Jaßper[26] / m From Latin iaspis, from Ancient Greek ἴασπις (íaspis)
Johannes Johanneß[27] Johann m A variant of the Greek name (Ιωάννης) and Classical Latin (Ioannes), itself derived from the Hebrew name Yehochanan, meaning "Yahweh is gracious"
Joss Joß[28] / m/f From the Old French name "Gosse", derived from "God"
Mathis Mathiß Matheß, Matheiß, Mattheiß, Matthiß[29] m Means “gift of Yahweh” (from Hebrew “mattath/מַתָּת” = gift + “yah/יָה” = referring to the Hebrew God).
Niels Nielß[30] Nils m Derived from the name Nicholas
Narziss Narziß[31] / m From the Greek Νάρκισσος
Nicolaus Niclauß[32] Nicklaß[33] m Derived from the Greek name Νικόλαος (Nikolaos), understood to mean "victory of the people", being a compound of νίκη nikē "victory" and λαός Laos "people".
Oswald Oßwald Oßwalt m Composed of two Anglo-Saxon elements, Ōs meaning "god" and weald meaning "rule" or "power"
Paul Paulß[34] Paulus, Pauluß m From Latin meaning "Small" or "Humble"
Theuss Theuß[35] Schultheß, Schulthieß, Thieß m From Latin "Thelonius", meaning "Ruler of the people"
Thomas Thomaß[36] / m Derived from the Aramaic personal name תאומא /tɑʔwmɑʔ/, meaning "twin" and "leader."
Thonis Thonniß[37] / m Derivate of "Antonius"


Note that some words contain an ae which may not be written æ because the etymology is not from the Greek -αι- or Latin -ae- diphthongs. These include:

  • In instances of aer (starting or within a word) when it makes the sound IPA [ɛə]/[eə] (air). Comes from the Latin āër, Greek ἀήρ.
  • When ae makes the diphthong // (lay) or // (eye).
  • When ae is found in a foreign phrase or loan word and it is unacceptable to use the ligature in that language. For example, when in a German loan word or phrase, if the a with an umlaut (ä) is written as ae, it is incorrect to write it with the ligature.
Normal form Ligature form Other forms Etymology
acanthaesthesia acanthæsthesia acanthesthesia From Ancient Greek ἄκανθα (ákantha, “thorn”) + αἴσθησις (aísthēsis, “sensation”)
Achaean Achæan Achean, Achaian, Akhaian From Latin Achaeus or Achaius, from Ancient Greek Ἀχαιός (Akhaiós)
Achaemenid Achæmenid From Ancient Greek Ἀχαιμενίδης
adhesive adhæsive From Latin "adhaerere"
Aeaea Ææa Eëä From Greek Αἰαία (Aiaíā)
aeciospore æciospore aeciospore Neo-Latin aecium from Ancient Greek αἰκία (aikía, “injury, insult”) and Neo-Latin spora from Ancient Greek σπορά (sporá, “seed, a sowing”)
aecidium æcidium (aecidium) Neo-Latin aecidium, from Greek αἰκία (aikia)
aecium æcium (aecium) Neo-Latin aecidium, from Greek αἰκία (aikia)
aedicule ædicule edicule (AmE) From Latin aedicula (“small house”), diminutive of aedis (“a house”)
Aegis Ægis Egis (archaic in AmE) Latin from Greek Αἰγίς (Aigis)
Aegyptus Ægyptus Egyptus (Biblical) Latin from Greek Αἴγυπτος (Aígyptos)
emulate æmulate From Latin "aemulare"
enigma ænigma From Latin "aenigma" meaning riddle
Aenon Ænon From Greek, Αἰνών
Aeolian Æolian Latin Aeolis from Greek mythology Αἰολίς (Aiolis)
Aeolis Æolis Latin Aeolis, from Greek Αἰολίς (Aiolis)
aeon æon eon (AmE) Late Latin aeon, from Greek αἰών (aion).
equal æqual From Latin "aequus, a, um" meaning equal
aera æra era (AmE)
aerugite ærugite (aerugo) Latin aerugo, from aes
aerugo ærugo (aerugite) Latin aerugo, from aes
aeschynite æschynite eschynite (AmE) Greek αἰσχύνω (aischuno)
aesculin æsculin esculin (AmE)
aesculetin æsculetin esculetin (AmE)
Aespa æspa
aesthetic æsthetic esthetic (AmE - rare) Greek αἰσθετικός (aisthetikos)
estimation æstimation From Latin "aestimare" meaning to guess
aestival æstival estival (AmE) Latin aestivus, from aestas
aestivation æstivation estivation (AmE) Latin aestivare, from aestivus, from aestas
eternity æternity From Latin 'aeternus' meaning without beginning or end
Aether Æther ether (AmE) Latin aether, from Greek αἰθήρ (aither)
aethereal æthereal or ætherial ethereal (AmE), ethereal (AmE - rare), aetherial (BrE - rare)
Aethrioscope Æthrioscope Ethrioscope Greek αἴθριον (aithrion)
aetiology ætiology etiology (AmE)
algae algæ algas[1] (very rare)
Alphaeus Alphæus
ambilevous ambilævous From Latin ambilævus (ambi- ("both") + lævus ("left")), a calque of Ancient Greek ἀμφαρίστερος (ampharisteros).
anaemia anæmia anemia (AmE)
anaesthesia anæsthesia anesthesia (AmE)
anapaest anapæst anapest (AmE)
antennae antennæ antennas[2]
archaeology archæology archeology (AmE)
archaebacteria archæbacteria archaea/archæ
Athenaeum Athenæum Atheneum (AmE)
azotaemia azotæmia azotemia (AmE)
bacteraemia bacteræmia bacteremia (AmE)
Caedmon Cædmon Cadmon
caesium[3] cæsium cesium (AmE)
Chaldaea Chaldæa Chaldea
chaetophorous chætophorous chetophorous
chimaera chimæra chimera (AmE)
coaeval coæval coeval
curriculum vitae curriculum vitæ Latin meaning ‘course of life’, vitæ
cyclopaedia cyclopædia cyclopedia
daedal dædal dedal
daemon dæmon demon Greek: δαιμων (daimon)
diaeresis diæresis dieresis (AmE)
Egypt Ægypt Aegypt (Archaic) From the Latinised Ægyptus
encyclopaedia encyclopædia encyclopedia (AmE)
Epaenetus Epænetus
equal æqual aequal (BrE - obsolete) from Latin "aequus"
equasion æquasion aequasion (BrE - obsolete) from Latin "aequare", "to make equal"
equator æquator aequator (BrE - obsolete) The name is derived from medieval Latin word aequator, in the phrase circulus aequator diei et noctis, meaning 'circle equalizing day and night', from the Latin word aequare meaning 'make equal'.
equilateral æquilateral aequilateral (BrE - obsolete) from Latin "aequus"
equinox æquinox aequinox (BrE - obsolete) from Latin "aequi + nocta"
equity æquity aequal (BrE - obsolete) from Latin "aequitas"
equivalent æquivalent aequivalent (BrE - obsolete) f from late Latin aequivalent- ‘being of equal worth’
era æra aera (BrE - rare) Late Latin aera, probably from Latin æs (plural æra)
et cetera et cætera et caetera, etc., &c. Latin phrase
esteem æsteem aesteem (BrE - obsolete) Latin aestimare, "to guess"
estimation æstimation aestimation (BrE - obsolete) Latin aestimare, "to guess"
eternal æternal aeternal
Ethiopia Æthiopia Aethiopia
Eudaemonic eudæmonic eudemonic
faeces fæces feces (AmE)
fairy færie faerie
formulae formulæ formulas[4]
fraenum frænum Frenum
Gaea Gæa Gaia
Graeco-Roman Græco-Roman Greco-Roman (AmE)
haemoglobin hæmoglobin hemoglobin (AmE)
haemolysis hæmolysis hemolysis (AmE)
haemophilia hæmophilia hemophilia (AmE)
haemorrhage hæmorrhage hemorrhage (AmE)
haemorrhoid hæmorrhoid hemorrhoid (AmE)
hyaena hyæna hyena
Hymenaeus Hymenæus
hypaethral hypæthral hypethral
hyperbolae hyperbolæ hyperbolas (AmE)[5]
hypnopedia hypnopædia
Idumaea Idumæa Idumea From "Edom" (Esau).
Irenaeus Irenæus
ischaemia ischæmia ischemia (AmE)
Ituraea Ituræa Iturea
Judaeo- Judæo- Judeo-
judaeophobe judæophobe judeophobe (AmE)
larvae larvæ larvas[6]
leukaemia leukæmia leukemia (AmE)
medieval mediæval mediaeval (BrE)
nebulae nebulæ nebulas[7] plural – Neo-LatinLatin ("mist"); akin to Old High German nebul ("fog") → Greek nephelē, nephos ("cloud")
nymphae nymphæ nymphs[8]
nymphaea nymphæa
orthopaedic orthopædic orthopedic (AmE)
paean pæan pean (AmE)
paeon pæon
pedagogue pædagogue or pædagog pedagog (AmE), (paedagogue and paedagog exist but are both somewhat archaic)
pederasty pæderasty paederasty
paediatrics pædiatrics pediatrics (AmE)
paediatrician pædiatrician pediatrician (AmE)
paediatrist pædiatrist pediatrist (AmE)
paedophile pædophile pedophile (AmE)
palaeobotany palæobotany paleobotany (AmE)
palaeocene palæocene paleocene (AmE)
palaeoclimatology palæoclimatology paleoclimatology (AmE)
palaeography palæography palaeography (AmE)
palaeolithic palæolithic paleolithic (AmE)
palaeography palæography paleography (AmE)
palaeontology palæontology paleontology (AmE)
palaeozoic palæozoic paleozoic (AmE)
Panacaea Panacæa Panacea (AmE)
pandemonium pandæmonium pandaemonium
Pangaea Pangæa Pangea (AmE)
parabolae parabolæ parabolas (AmE)[9]
personae personæ personas[10]
Plantae Plantæ
premium præmium praemium
pretorium prætorium praetorium, also prœtorium Both forms with æ and œ seen, from Latin, praetōrium
primeval primæval primaeval (BrE - rare)
Quaestor Quæstor
Rhaetia Rhætia
septicaemia septicæmia septicemia (AmE)
scarabaeid scarabæid
scarabaeoid scarabæoid
subpoenae subpœnæ
supernovae supernovæ supernovas[11]
synaeresis synæresis syneresis (AmE)
synaesthesia synæsthesia synesthesia (AmE)
Thaddaeus Thaddæus Thaddeus
toxaemia toxæmia toxemia (AmE)
uraemia uræmia uremia (AmE)
vertebrae vertebræ
viraemia viræmia viremia (AmE)
Zacchaeus Zacchæus Zaccheus
zoogloeae zoöglœæ [12]


Common form Ligature form Other forms Etymology
amenorrhoea amenorrhœa amenorrhea (AmE) From Greek α (a) + μένόρροια (mēnorroia)
amoeba amœba ameba (AmE—rare) Neo-Latin amoeba, from Greek ἀμοιβή (amoibē)
apnea apnœa apnoea (BrE) Neo-Latin apnoea, from Greek απνοια (apnoia)
coelacanth cœlacanth From Greek κοῖλος (koîlos, “hollow”) + ἄκανθα (ákantha, “spine”)
coeliac cœliac celiac (AmE) Latin coeliacus, from Greek κοιλιακος (koiliakos)
coeptis cœptis On the Great Seal of the United States, Annuit cœptis from Latin, coeptum.
Confoederatio Helvetica Confœderatio Helvetica Latin for "Helvetic Confederation". The Roman and now formal name for Switzerland. The abbreviation CH is derived from the initialization of this Latin phrase.
diarrhoea diarrhœa diarrhea (AmE) Middle English diaria, from Late Latin diarrhoea, from Greek διάρροια (diarroia)
dyspnea dyspnœa dyspnoea
ecology œcology oecology
economics œconomics oeconomics
economy œconomy oeconomy
ecumenism œcumenism oecumenism, rarely ocumenism
esophagus œsophagus oesophagus (BrE)
estrogen œstrogen oestrogen (BrE)
estrus œstrus oestrus
federal fœderal foederal – archaic; thus virtually never found Latin foedus
fetid fœtid foetid (BrE) Latin fētidus
fetor fœtor foetor (BrE) Middle English fetoure, from Latin fētor
fetus fœtus foetus (BrE) Middle English fetus, from Latin fētus
gonorrhoea gonorrhœa gonorrhea (AmE) Greek γονόρροια (gonorrhoia)
homeomorphism homœomorphism homoeomorphism (BrE) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + μορφος (morphos)
homeopath homœopath homoeopath (BrE) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + πάθος (pathos)
homeostasis homœostasis homoeostasis (BrE) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + στάσις (stasis)
homoeozoic homœozoic homeozoic (AmE—rare) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + ζωικός (zōikos)
hors d'oeuvre hors d'œuvre French hors d'œuvre
logorrhoea logorrhœa logorrhea (AmE) From Greek
maneuver manœuvre manoeuvre (BrE) French manœuvre, from Old French maneuvre, from Medieval Latin manuopera, from Latin manū operārī
oedema œdema edema (AmE)
oeillade œillade
oenology œnology enology (AmE) From Greek οίνος (oinos) + λόγος (logos)
oenomel œnomel
oenothera œnothera
oesophagus œsophagus esophagus (AmE)
oestrus œstrus estrus (AmE) Greek οἶστρος (oistros) ‘gadfly or frenzy’
Oethelwald Œthelwald Œthelwald of Deira
oeuvre œuvre French œuvre, from Old French uevre, from Latin opera
onomatopoeia onomatopœia
penology pœnology
phoenix phœnix phenix (rare)
pretorium prœtorium prætorium or praetorium Both forms with œ and æ seen, from Latin, praetōrium.
subpoena subpœna subpena (rare)
tragedy tragœdy tragoedy
zoogloea zoöglœa -


  1. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ The variants that change '-æ' or '-ae' to '-s' are not variants in spelling, but the same meaning of the word with a different way of forming plurals.
  2. ^ "caesium" (see article) is preferred by the IUPAC.

Also, ligatures may be used in personal names as well, i.e. Maecenus as Mæcenus etc.


  1. ^ "An Ode on Saint Caecilia's Day, adapted to the antient British Musick: Viz. The Salt-Box, the Jews Harp, the Marrow-Bones and Cleavers, the Hum-Strum or Hurdy &c. With an introduction, giving some account of these truly British Instruments". 1763.
  2. ^ Mayo, Herbert (1851). "On the Truths Contained in Popular Superstitions: With an Account of Mesmerism".
  3. ^ "Petra Vestvik, born 1909 - Ancestry®".
  4. ^ Adra (1881). "Legends of Lakeland. (Ballad-lyrics)".
  5. ^ Forbes, George; Forbes, Susan-Janet-Æmilia (1750). "Answers for George Forbes, and for Susan-Janet-Æmilia Forbes, Lawful Child of the Marriage Betwixt Him and Susanna Countess-dowager of Strathmore, to the Bill of Advocation Presented in Name of the Said Countess".
  6. ^ "Hephaestus - Wiktionary". 6 June 2022.
  7. ^ Russell, William Clark (1872). "Memoirs of MRS. Lætitia Boothby".
  8. ^,_vnd_die_angra%C2%A8ntzende_La%C2%A8ndern._Durch_Joan-_Conradum_Wechtler,_etc._(Wienn_in_Oesterreich_-_gedruckt_bey_Matth%C5%93o_Rick_-_Upper_cover_(c129m2).jpg. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Matthaeo - Wiktionary". 14 May 2022.
  10. ^ Pigna, Giovan Battista (1580). "Historien deß ... Hauses Est".
  11. ^ Guldan, Ernst (1970). "Wolfgang Andreas Heindl".
  12. ^ "Wöchentliche historische Münz-Belustigung: Darinnen allerhand merckwürdige und rare Thaler, Ducaten, Schaustücken, andere sonderbahre Gold- und Silber-Münzen". 1746.
  13. ^ "Die Hausbücher der Nürnberger Zwölfbrüderstiftungen".
  14. ^ "Historia von Leben, Thaten, VND Sterben etzlicher außerwölten Lieben H. Gottes. Des H. Premonstratenser Ordens. Als Nemblich, 1 H. Norberti Ertzbischoff zu Magdeburg fundatoren ermeltes Ordens. 2 H. Friderici. 3 H. Hermanni Steinfeldensis gnant Joseph. 4 H. Godefridi Comitis Canonich zu Cappenb: Den einfeltigen Geistlichen Brüdern, VND Schwestern des Premonstratenser Ordens, zo Lieb, VND fruchtbarlichen nutz in Teutsche Reymen beschrieben, Im Closter Steinfeld desselbigen Ordens. Hir zo gesetzt VMB geleichung der Materien, das Leben, wandel, VND sterben zweyer H. Märtyrer Chrysanti, VND Dari[a]e Patronen der Collegiat Kirchen zu Münstereyffel auch in Reimweiß verfast". 1609.
  15. ^ "Radii solis zeli seraphici cœli veritatis, pro immaculatæ conceptionis mysterio Virginis Mariæ, discurrentes per duodecim classes auctorum, vel duodecim Signa Zodiaci sicut Sol, perficientes circulum suum solarem juxta dies anni completi, per trecentos sexaginta sex radios". 1666.
  16. ^ Ambronn, Karl-Otto (1950). Historischer Atlas von Bayern: Teil Altbayern. Heft 1-. Kommission für Bayerische Landesgeschichte. ISBN 9783769699326.
  17. ^ "Genealogie - Wandel in den Vornamen / Männer".
  18. ^ "Namen : Augsburger Baumeisterbücher".
  19. ^ "Genealogie - Wandel in den Vornamen / Männer".
  20. ^ "Eraßmus Hinckel". 27 November 1722.
  21. ^ "Franß Fastabend - Historische Aufzeichnungen Stammbäume - MyHeritage". Archived from the original on 2020-10-18.
  22. ^ "Aegidius (Vorname) – GenWiki".
  23. ^ "Genealogie - Wandel in den Vornamen / Männer".
  24. ^ "Genealogie - Wandel in den Vornamen / Männer".
  25. ^ Heermann, Norbert; Klimesch, Matthäus (1898). "Norbert Heermann's Rosenberg'sche Chronik".
  26. ^ "Jaßper David - Historische Aufzeichnungen Stammbäume - MyHeritage". Archived from the original on 2020-10-19.
  27. ^ "Genealogie - Wandel in den Vornamen / Männer".
  28. ^ "Fritz, Joß - Deutsche Biographie".
  29. ^ "Genealogie - Wandel in den Vornamen / Männer".
  30. ^, Niss.html
  31. ^ "Vorname Narziß » Beliebtheit, Bedeutung & mehr". 4 January 2013.
  32. ^ "Genealogie - Wandel in den Vornamen / Männer".
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  34. ^ "Größte christliche Liederdatenbank - 25.000+ Christliche Lieder (Kirchenlieder)".
  35. ^ "Jungennamen mit Th".
  36. ^ Hutter, Elias (1599). "NOVVM TESTAMENTVM D[omi]NI N[ost]ri IESV CHRISTI: Syriace Ebraice Graece Latine Germanice Bohemice Italice Hispanice Gallice Anglice Danice Polonice".
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