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[lim] /lɪm/
verb (used with object)
to represent in drawing or painting.
to portray in words; describe.
Obsolete. to illuminate (manuscripts).
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English lymne, variant of Middle English luminen to illuminate (manuscripts), aphetic variant of enlumine < Middle French enluminer < Latin inlūmināre to embellish, literally, light up; see illuminate
Related forms
outlimn, verb (used with object)
unlimned, adjective
Can be confused
limb, limn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for limn
  • They are rated by their ability to limn the customer's likeness on paper.
  • There is no determined plotting or pioneering zeal from childhood to limn her story.
  • Included among these is finning otherwise non-limn hydroelectric power so that it can be sold as higher value firm power.
  • We first limn the applicable standard of review and address a procedural point raised by the plaintiffs.
British Dictionary definitions for limn


verb (transitive)
to represent in drawing or painting
(archaic) to describe in words
an obsolete word for illuminate
Derived Forms
limner (ˈlɪmnə) noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French enluminer to illumine (a manuscript) from Latin inlūmināre to brighten, from lūmen light
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for limn
c.1420, "to illuminate" (manuscripts), altered from M.E. lumine, "to illuminate manuscripts," from O.Fr. luminer, from L. luminare "illuminate, burnish," from lumen (gen. luminis) "radiant energy, light." Sense of "portray, depict" first recorded 1592.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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