List of words that may be spelled with a ligature

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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.


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.
Non-ligature form Ligature form Other forms Etymology
aeciospore æciospore combination of New Latin aecium and New Latin spora→spore (aecium+spore)
aecidium æcidium (aecium) New Latin aecidium, from Greek αἰκία (aikia)
aecium æcium (aecidium) New Latin aecidium, from Greek αἰκία (aikia)
aedicule ædicule edicule (AmE) Latin aediculum
Aegis Ægis Egis (AmE) Latin from Greek Αἰγίς (Aigis)
Aegyptus Ægyptus Egyptus (Biblical) Latin from Greek Αἴγυπτος (Aígyptos)
Aelfred Ælfred Alfred Old English—see Alfred
Aeolian Æolian Eolian (AmE) 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).
aera æra era (AmE)
aerose ærose Latin aerosus, from aes
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)
Aesop Æsop Esop Ancient Greek Αἴσωπος (Aisōpos)
aesthetic æsthetic esthetic (AmE - rare) Greek αἰσθετικός (aisthetikos)
aestival æstival estival (AmE) Latin aestivus, from aestas
aestivation æstivation estivation (AmE) Latin aestivare, from aestivus, from aestas
Aether Æther ether (AmE) Latin aether, from Greek αἰθήρ (aither)
aethereal æthereal or ætherial ethereal (AmE), ethereal (AmE - rare), aetherial (BrE - rare)
Aethelthryth Æthelthryth Audrey Anglo-Saxon
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
Caesar Cæsar Cesar (AmE – rare)
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)
enigma ænigma aenigma
Epaenetus Epanætus
era æra aera (BrE - rare) Late Latin aera, probably from Latin æs (plural æra)
et cetera et cætera et caetera, etc., &c. Latin phrase
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)
Israel Isræl
Ituraea Ituræa Iturea
Judaeo- Judæo- Judeo-
judaeophobe judæophobe judeophobe (AmE)
leukaemia leukæmia leukemia (AmE)
medieval mediæval mediaeval (BrE)
nebulae nebulæ nebulas[6] plural – New LatinLatin ("mist"); akin to Old High German nebul ("fog") → Greek nephelē, nephos ("cloud")
nymphae nymphæ nymphs[7]
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)[8]
personae personæ personas[9]
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[10]
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 [11]


Common form Ligature form Other forms Etymology
amenorrhoea amenorrhœa amenorrhea (AmE) From Greek α (a) + μένόρροια (mēnorroia)
amoeba amœba ameba (AmE—rare) New Latin amoeba, from Greek ἀμοιβή (amoibē)
apnea apnœa apnoea (BrE) New Latin apnoea, from Greek απνοια (apnoia)
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)
Oedipus Œdipus Oidipous, Oidipus (both rare) Greek Οἰδίπους (Oidipous)
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
Phoebe Phœbe
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 -


The ligature was a ligature in the English Language, and was a ligature between ſ and t, appearing in the miniscule form only. It has also been stylistically written as , a ligature between s and t. All words using are archaic spellings.

Non-ligature form Ligature form Other forms Etymology
loſt loſt lost (modern) Past tense of lose, from Old English los, meaning loss.
paſt paſt past (modern)
laſt laſt last (modern)
faſt faſt fast (modern)
hiſtory hiſtory history (modern), hiſtorie (archaic) From Greek historia meaning learning, entered English via Latin.


  1. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ The variants that change '-æ' or '-œ' 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.