nim·​bus | \ ˈnim-bəs How to pronounce nimbus (audio) \
plural nimbi\ ˈnim-​ˌbī How to pronounce nimbi (audio) , -​ˌbē \ or nimbuses

Definition of nimbus

1a : a luminous vapor, cloud, or atmosphere about a god or goddess when on earth
b : a cloud or atmosphere (as of romance) about a person or thing
2 : an indication (such as a circle) of radiant light or glory about the head of a drawn or sculptured divinity, saint, or sovereign
3a : a rain cloud

Illustration of nimbus

Illustration of nimbus

nimbus 2

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Examples of nimbus in a Sentence

fans are inevitably disappointed when the nimbus of glamour about their favorite celebrity turns out to be an illusion the nimbi for the sculpted figures around the exterior of the church are simple disks about the saints' heads
Recent Examples on the Web An image of melting glaciers in Greenland, found while perusing a PBS documentary, combines a watery sunset landscape with a swirling nimbus of orangey fingermarks on the surface. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Former MTV reporter Tabitha Soren’s ‘Surface Tension’ explores power of touch at Transformer Station," 17 Nov. 2019 But a nimbus of noise accumulates around the simple-seeming chords. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Otherworldly Minimalism of Jürg Frey," 29 Oct. 2019 The solar equation persists in later art as a halo, a nimbus of light representing the circle of the sun. Robert E. Gordon, WSJ, "A Multi-Layered Drama," 13 July 2018 In her angelic likeness of Nur, Ms. Lal neglects only the nimbus. Maxwell Carter, WSJ, "‘Empress’ Review: Light of the Mughal World," 13 July 2018 With her signature nimbus of mahogany-and-gray curls tied into an overhead bun, Brock Akil, 48, knows how to persevere. Jason Parham, WIRED, "How Oprah’s Network Finally Found Its Voice," 19 June 2018 Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely wore a simple round nimbus, as seen in Da Vinci’s Madonna Benois, which looked very nice. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Getting Into the Holy Spirit," 8 May 2018 Her songs look at restless travels along with the details of everyday life, in roots-rock with a nimbus of psychedelia. The New York Times, New York Times, "22 Musicals, Plays, Concerts, Dances and Festivals You Can’t Miss This Spring," 20 Feb. 2018 White dogwood branches looked like clouds, the pale saucers of their blossoms arranged in white nimbuses. John Kelly, Washington Post, "In spring, a middle-aged man’s fancy turns to blossoms and batteries," 29 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nimbus.' 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 nimbus

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for nimbus

Latin, rainstorm, cloud; probably akin to Latin nebula cloud — more at nebula

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Time Traveler for nimbus

Time Traveler

The first known use of nimbus was in 1606

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Cite this Entry

“Nimbus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for nimbus


How to pronounce nimbus (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nimbus

formal + literary : a circle of light


nim·​bus | \ ˈnim-bəs How to pronounce nimbus (audio) \
plural nimbi\ -​ˌbī \ or nimbuses

Kids Definition of nimbus

: a rain cloud

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More from Merriam-Webster on nimbus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nimbus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nimbus

Britannica English: Translation of nimbus for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nimbus

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