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
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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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