nim·​bus | \ ˈnim-bəs How to pronounce nimbus (audio) \
plural nimbi\ ˈnim-​ˌbī How to pronounce nimbus (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 In the mid-distance, a lone couple strolls under a nimbus of pink cherry blossoms. Washington Post, "Seeing Washington’s cherry blossoms through the eyes of a Japanese artist," 31 Mar. 2021 In any case, Ms. Morris continued with her writing life much as before, only wearing skirts, necklaces, a nimbus of graying hair and a perpetual smile. Washington Post, "Jan Morris, artful travel writer who broke many boundaries, dies at 94," 20 Nov. 2020 So restaurants trying to expand their borders are going to have to build some kind of nimbus of infrastructure to minimize the picnic-in-the-rain vibe. Adam Rogers, Wired, "The Design and Science of Patio Dining During a Pandemic," 17 June 2020 Rather than the classic solitaire prong setting, Nuvola has a nimbus of pavé diamonds around the central stone, producing a balance of gold to stone in the circular design. Jessica Bumpus, New York Times, "In Diamonds, Brown Is ‘Much More Mysterious’," 10 Feb. 2020 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

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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Last Updated

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nimbus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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

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

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