Language: Old English
Origin: tigan


1 verb
tie1 S2 W3 past tense and past participle tied, present participle tying


a) [transitive] to fasten things together or hold them in a particular position using a piece of string, rope etc [≠ untie]
tie something to/behind/onto etc something
Tie this label to your suitcase.
tie somebody to something
They tied him to a tree and beat him up.
tie something together (with something)
I kept all his letters tied together with a ribbon.
tie somebody's hands/arms/legs/feet
One of them tied her hands behind her back.
I tie my hair back when I'm jogging.
b) [transitive] to fasten something around, over etc something else and tie the ends together [≠ untie]
tie something around/over/under etc something
He had only a towel tied around his waist.
She tied a scarf over her head.
c) [transitive] to make a knot in a piece of string, rope etc, for example to fasten shoes or other clothes:
Can you tie your shoelaces by yourself?
tie a knot/bow
She pulled the ribbon tightly and tied a bow.
d) [intransitive] if a piece of clothing ties in a particular place, you fasten it there using a belt, bow etc:
This dress ties at the back.


[intransitive] also be tied if two players, teams etc tie or are tied in a game or competition, they finish it with an equal number of points
tie with
At the end of the season, we were tied with the Tigers.
tie for first/second etc place
Woosnam and Lyle tied for fourth place on 264.

be tied to something

to be related to something and dependent on it:
The flat is tied to the job.
Interest rates are tied to the rate of inflation.

be tied to/by something

to be restricted by a particular situation, job etc, so that you cannot do exactly what you want:
Many women felt tied to the house.
be tied to doing something
I didn't want to be tied to commuting to London.
With children, you're tied by school holidays.

tie the knot

informal to get married

tie yourself (up) in knots

informal to become very upset because you are confused, nervous, or worried

tie one on

American English informal to get drunk

➔ somebody's hands are tied

at hand1 (43)

tie somebody down

phrasal verb
to restrict someone's freedom to do what they want to do:
She didn't want to be tied down by a full-time job.
tie somebody down to
Are you ready to be tied down to a wife and children?

tie in with something

phrasal verb
1 to be similar to another idea, statement etc, so that they seem to be true:
Her description tied in with that of the other witness.
2 also be tied in with something to be related in some way to something else:
How does all this tie in with their long-term aims?
3 to happen at the same time as something else:
The book was published to tie in with the TV series.

tie up

phrasal verb


tie somebody ↔ up

to tie someone's arms, legs etc so that they cannot move:
The intruders tied Kurt up and left him.


tie something ↔ up

to fasten something together, using string, rope etc:
He tied up all the old newspapers.


be tied up

to be very busy, so that you cannot do anything else:
I can't see you tomorrow - I'll be tied up all day.

traffic/phone/court etc

tie something ↔ up

especially American English to block a system or use it so much that other people cannot use it or it does not work effectively:
Don't tie up the phone lines making personal calls.
Protesters tied up the traffic for three hours today.


be tied up

if your money is tied up in something, it is all being used for that thing and is not available for anything else
be tied up in
My money's all tied up in the house.


tie something ↔ up

to finish arranging all the details of something such as an agreement or a plan:
We'd better tie up the details with a solicitor.

be tied up with something

to be very closely related to something:
The shortage of teachers is tied up with the issue of pay.

tie up loose ends

to do the things that are necessary in order to finish a piece of work:
I need to tie up a few loose ends before I go on vacation.


tie something ↔ up

to tie an animal to something with a rope, chain etc
tie something ↔ up to
She left the dog tied up to a tree.


TTW to tie a boat to something with a rope, chain etc:
We tied up alongside a barge.
tie something ↔ up
There was a boat tied up at the jetty.

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