limbo

1 of 2

noun (1)

lim·​bo ˈlim-(ˌ)bō How to pronounce limbo (audio)
plural limbos
1
often capitalized : an abode of souls that are according to Roman Catholic theology barred from heaven because of not having received Christian baptism
2
a
: a place or state of restraint or confinement
trapping travelers in an airless limboSam Boal
b
: a place or state of neglect or oblivion
proposals kept in limbo
c
: an intermediate or transitional place or state
the adolescent occupies a special human limboNew Republic
d
: a state of uncertainty
The graduate was in limbo for a while, trying to decide what to do next.

limbo

2 of 2

noun (2)

plural limbos
: a dance or contest that involves bending over backwards and passing under a horizontal pole lowered slightly for each successive pass

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Medieval Latin, ablative of limbus limbo, from Latin, border

Noun (2)

English of Trinidad & Barbados; akin to Jamaican English limba to bend, from English limber entry 2

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1948, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of limbo was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near limbo

Cite this Entry

“Limbo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/limbo. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

limbo

1 of 2 noun
lim·​bo ˈlim-bō How to pronounce limbo (audio)
plural limbos
1
often capitalized : a place for souls (as of unbaptized infants) believed to be barred from heaven through no fault of their own
2
a
: a place or state of being held or forgotten
b
: a middle place or state

limbo

2 of 2 noun
: a dance or contest that involves bending backward and passing under a horizontal pole
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