Definition of limn
- The artist limned a portrait.
- he was limned by a streetlight
- —Stephen Coonts
- the novel limns the frontier life of the settlers
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he limned the scene in the courtroom so perfectly I could practically see it
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'limn.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Allow us to shed some light on the history of "limn," a word with lustrous origins. "Limn" traces to the Middle French verb enluminer and ultimately to the Latin illuminare, which means "to illuminate." Its use as an English verb dates from the days of Middle English; at first, "limn" referred to the action of illuminating (that is, decorating) medieval manuscripts with gold, silver, or brilliant colors. William Shakespeare extended the term to painting in his poem Venus and Adonis: "Look when a painter would surpass the life / In limning out a well-proportioned steed . . . ."
First Known Use: 1592See Words from the same year
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having a quality expressive of sadness
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