OED Can’t Save Me: nonligatured vs unligatured

If two type letters are connected, the connection is known as a ligature. If letters are typically connected but not in an individual case, the adjective to describe the situation could be nonligatured or unligatured. But which should it be?

The Oxford English Dictionary does not help. A full-text search has neither negative form. In positive form, ligatured seems to be more common for medical uses. And for printing, the OED offers the term “in ligature” for the positive case. The opposite, “not in ligature,” could be produce “not-in-ligature type,” a horrid adjectival form–to my eye. Alright, so it’s Google Books for this.

The term unligatured is more frequent than nonliatured, but most references seem to come from medical writings. Refine the search, so now it’s a competition between quoted “unligatured type” and “nonligatured type.” And the winner is, “unligatured type,” in use by the best authorities, Journal of Printing History and the journal Text.

Case closed.

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