verb (used with object), tied, ty·ing.

  1. to bind, fasten, or attach with a cord, string, or the like, drawn together and knotted: to tie a tin can on a dog’s tail.
  2. to draw together the parts of with a knotted string or the like: to tie a bundle tight.
  3. to fasten by tightening and knotting the string or strings of: to tie one’s shoes.
  4. to draw or fasten together into a knot, as a cord: to tie one’s shoelace.
  5. to form by looping and interlacing, as a knot or bow.
  6. to fasten, join, or connect in any way.
  7. Angling. to design and make (an artificial fly).
  8. to bind or join closely or firmly: Great affection tied them.
  9. Informal. to unite in marriage.
  10. to confine, restrict, or limit: The weather tied him to the house.
  11. to bind or oblige, as to do something.
  12. to make the same score as; equal in a contest.
  13. Music. to connect (notes) by a tie.

verb (used without object), tied, ty·ing.

  1. to make a tie, bond, or connection.
  2. to make or be the same score; be equal in a contest: The teams tied for first place in the league.


  1. that with which anything is tied.
  2. a cord, string, or the like, used for tying, fastening, binding, or wrapping something.
  3. a necktie.
  4. a low shoe fastened with a lace.
  5. a knot, especially an ornamental one; bow.
  6. anything that fastens, secures, or unites.
  7. a bond or connection, as of affection, kinship, mutual interest, or between two or more people, groups, nations, or the like: family ties; the ties between Britain and the U.S.
  8. a state of equality in the result of a contest, as in points scored, votes obtained, etc., among competitors: The game ended in a tie.
  9. a match or contest in which this occurs.
  10. any of various structural members, as beams or rods, for keeping two objects, as rafters or the haunches of an arch, from spreading or separating.
  11. Music. a curved line connecting two notes on the same line or space to indicate that the sound is to be sustained for their joint value, not repeated.
  12. Also called, especially British, sleeper. Railroads. any of a number of closely spaced transverse beams, usually of wood, for holding the rails forming a track at the proper distance from each other and for transmitting train loads to the ballast and roadbed.
  13. bride2(def 1).
  14. Surveying. a measurement made to determine the position of a survey station with respect to a reference mark or other isolated point.

Verb Phrases

  1. tie down, to limit one’s activities; confine; curtail: He finds that a desk job ties him down.
  2. tie in,
    1. to connect or be connected; be consistent: His story ties in with the facts.
    2. establish the position of (a point not part of a survey control).
    3. to make a tie-in, especially in advertising or a sale: The paperback book is tied in with the movie of the same title.
  3. tie off, to tie a cord or suture around (a vein, blood vessel, or the like) so as to stop the flow within.
  4. tie up,
    1. to fasten securely by tying.
    2. to wrap; bind.
    3. to hinder; impede.
    4. to bring to a stop; make inactive.
    5. to invest or place (money) in such a way as to render unavailable for other uses.
    6. to place (property) under such conditions or restrictions as to prevent sale or alienation.
    7. to moor a ship.
    8. to engage or occupy completely: I can’t see you now, I’m all tied up.
  1. tie one on, Slang. to get drunk: Charlie sure tied one on last night!
  2. tie the knot. knot1(def 18).

verb ties, tying or tied

  1. (when tr, often foll by up) to fasten or be fastened with string, thread, etc
  2. to make (a knot or bow) in (something)to tie a knot; tie a ribbon
  3. (tr) to restrict or secure
  4. to equal the score of a competitor or fellow candidate
  5. (tr) informal to unite in marriage
  6. music
    1. to execute (two successive notes of the same pitch) as though they formed one note of composite time value
    2. to connect (two printed notes) with a tie
  7. fit to be tied slang very angry or upset


  1. a bond, link, or fastening
  2. a restriction or restraint
  3. a string, wire, ribbon, etc, with which something is tied
  4. a long narrow piece of material worn, esp by men, under the collar of a shirt, tied in a knot close to the throat with the ends hanging down the frontUS name: necktie
    1. an equality in score, attainment, etc, in a contest
    2. the match or competition in which such a result is attained
  5. a structural member carrying tension, such as a tie beam or tie rod
  6. sport, British a match or game in an eliminating competitiona cup tie
  7. (usually plural) a shoe fastened by means of laces
  8. the US and Canadian name for sleeper (def. 3)
  9. music a slur connecting two notes of the same pitch indicating that the sound is to be prolonged for their joint time value
  10. surveying one of two measurements running from two points on a survey line to a point of detail to fix its position
  11. lacemaking another name for bride 2

“that with which anything is tied,” Old English teag, from Proto-Germanic *taugo (cf. Old Norse taug “tie,” tygill “string”), from PIE *deuk- “to pull, to lead” (cf. Old English teon “to draw, pull, drag;” see duke (n.)).

Figurative sense is recorded from 1550s. Meaning “equality between competitors” is first found 1670s, from notion of a connecting link (tie-breaker is recorded from 1961). Sense of “necktie, cravat” first recorded 1761. The railway sense of “transverse sleeper” is from 1857, American English.


Old English tigan, tiegan, from the source of tie (n.). Related: Tied; tying. Tie-dye first attested 1904. Tie one on “get drunk” is recorded from 1951. In the noun sense of “connection,” tie-in dates from 1934.

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