\ ˈlim How to pronounce limn (audio) \
limned; limning\ ˈli-​miŋ How to pronounce limning (audio) , ˈlim-​niŋ \

Definition of limn

transitive verb

1 : to draw or paint on a surface The artist limned a portrait.
2 : to outline in clear sharp detail : delineate he was limned by a streetlight— Stephen Coonts
3 : describe the novel limns the frontier life of the settlers

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Other Words from limn

limner \ ˈli-​mər How to pronounce limner (audio) , ˈlim-​nər How to pronounce limner (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

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 . . . ."

Examples of limn in a Sentence

he limned the scene in the courtroom so perfectly I could practically see it
Recent Examples on the Web The politics of illness—how the profit motive determines life and damage and death; how victim blaming is enshrined; how social norms can disable and kill—have rarely been limned with such clarity and grace. Lidija Haas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 28 Oct. 2019 Yet each bears Becker’s stamp, with impeccably precise narratives, mise-en-scènes of documentary accuracy, and characters both well-limned and inordinately sympathetic. David Mermelstein, WSJ, "The Struggles of Jacques Becker," 1 Aug. 2018 Faleiro, opposite him, beautifully limns a woman whose position between her parents on the one hand and her husband and children on the other becomes untenable because of political events beyond her control. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Domain' ('A herdade'): Film Review | Venice 2019," 7 Sep. 2019 Whether writing about a brief recipe pamphlet or a dense guide to household management, Tipton-Martin gives each book a generous page or more of comment, limning the biographies of the authors and celebrating their accomplishments. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "The Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far," 14 July 2019 The choreographer’s characteristic mix of fluid movement and sudden change of direction for this limb or that, effortless lifts that suggest flight, limn the bigger gestures of the music. Mark Swed,, "Review: Thomas Adès’ spectacular ‘Inferno’ gets the Wayne McGregor and Tacita Dean touch," 14 July 2019 The candidate is seen from the back, a spotlight limning his head and the fingers on his right hand. WSJ, "‘In Mid-Sentence’ Review: An Ad Hoc Genre," 18 June 2019 With her characteristic storytelling brio, Oates limns in her first 125 pages a fraught family that mirrors a fraught community. Wendy Smith,, "Not perhaps the best by a master of the troubling and thoughtful but still pretty good," 13 June 2019 Over this go juicy tomatoes and cucumber limned with vinegar and olive oil, and finally a scattering of cilantro, dill and raw jalapeños — just a few, but vital. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "At Cafe Dushanbe, a Chef Stays True to His Tajik Roots," 21 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of limn

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for limn

Middle English limnen to illuminate (a manuscript), probably back-formation from lymnour illuminator, alteration of lumenur, from Anglo-French aluminer, enluminer to illuminate, ultimately from Latin illuminare

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Statistics for limn

Last Updated

19 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for limn

The first known use of limn was in 1592

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More from Merriam-Webster on limn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for limn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with limn

Britannica English: Translation of limn for Arabic Speakers

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