From Middle English limnen, limyne, lymm, lymn, lymne (“to illuminate (a manuscript)”), a variant of luminen (“to illuminate (a manuscript)”), short form of enluminen (“to shed light on, illuminate; to enlighten; to make bright or clear; to give colour to; to illuminate (a manuscript); to depict, describe; to adorn or embellish with figures of speech or poetry; to make famous, glorious, or illustrious”), from Old French enluminer (“to brighten, light up; to give colour to; to illuminate (a manuscript)”), from Latin illūminō (“to brighten, light up; to adorn; to make conspicuous”), from il- (a variant of in- (prefix meaning ‘in, inside’)) + lūminō (“to brighten, illuminate; to reveal”) (from lūmen (“light; (poetic) brightness”) (from Proto-Indo-European *lewk- (“bright; to shine; to see”)) + -ō (suffix forming regular first-conjugation verbs)).
- (Received Pronunciation, General American) enPR: lĭm, IPA(key): /lɪm/
Audio (RP) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɪm
- Homophones: lim, limb
- (transitive, also figuratively) To draw or paint; to delineate.
- Synonym: depict
- a. 1627, Francis Bacon, “[Poems Found among the Papers of Sir Henry Wotton.] The World.”, in Henry Wotton; Izaac Walton [i.e., Izaak Walton], editor, Reliquiæ Wottonianæ: Or, A Collection of Lives, Letters, Poems; with Characters of Sundry Personages: And Other Incomparable Pieces of Language and Art. […], 4th edition, London: Printed for B[enjamin] Tooke, […], and T[homas] Sawbridge […], published 1685, OCLC 228724706, page 397:
- Who then to frail Mortality ſhall truſt, / But limns in Water, or but writes in Duſt.
- 1652, J[ohn] A[mos] Comenius, “Of Opticks [Eye-craft,] and Painting”, in Tho[mas] Horn[e], transl.; Joh[n] Robotham, W[illiam] D[ugard], and G. P., editors, Janua Linguarum Reserata: Sive, Omnium Scientiarum & Linguarum Seminarium: […] = The Gate of Languages Unlocked: Or, a Seed-plot of All Arts and Tongues; Containing a Ready Way to Learn the Latine and English Tongue. […], London: Printed by Edw[ard] Griffin, and Wil[liam] Hunt, for Thomas Slater, […], OCLC 304411257, paragraph 770:
- Then the Painter, according to the pattern of ſome living thing, portraieth [draweth out] the picture groſly; afterward he reſembleth it to the life, and with his pencil limneth it with different painting colors.
- 1661 November 1, Thomas Browne, “[Domestic Correspondence.] Dr. Browne to His Son Thomas.—Norwich, Nov. 1, [1661.]”, in Simon Wilkin, editor, The Works of Sir Thomas Browne (Bohn’s Antiquarian Library), volume III, London: Henry G[eorge] Bohn, published 1852, OCLC 421817, page 395:
- Read books which are in french and Latin, for so you may retain and increase your knowledge in Latin: some times draw and limn and practise perspective.
- 1881, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Five English Poets. II. William Blake. (To Frederick Shields, on His Sketch of Blake’s Work-room and Death-room, 3, Fountain Court, Strand.)”, in Ballads and Sonnets, London: Ellis and White, […], OCLC 946729536, stanza 4, lines 9–10, page 314:
- This cupboard, Holy of Holies, held the cloud / Of his soul writ and limned; [...]
- 1905, Herbert A[llen] Giles, “Childbirth, Childhood, and the Position of Woman”, in Adversaria Sinica, number 1, Shanghai: Messrs. Kelly & Walsh, Ltd., OCLC 829421550, page 377:
- [S]he laughs—in golden tones; she sleeps—like a fragrant lily; she dresses—limning her eyebrows like those of the silkworm moth.
- 1964, Kōbō Abe [pseudonym; Kimifusa Abe], chapter 30, in E. Dale Saunders, transl., The Woman in the Dunes: Translated from the Japanese, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, OCLC 325734; 1st Vintage International edition, New York, N.Y.: Vintage International, Vintage Books, April 1991, →ISBN, pages 226–227:
- As he looked up at the rim of the hole, faintly limned in the moonlight, he mused that this searching feeling of his was perhaps jealousy.
- 2000 March 10, Michiko Kakutani, “Earthlings may endanger your peaceful rationality [review of Mr. Spaceman (2000) by Robert Olen Butler]”, in The New York Times, New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, ISSN 0362-4331, OCLC 971436363, archived from the original on 27 May 2015:
- In telling these people's stories Mr. [Robert Olen] Butler draws upon the same gifts of empathy and insight, the same ability to limn an entire life in a couple of pages, [...]
- 2014 October, Karen Hawkins, chapter 2, in The Prince who Loved Me, 1st Pocket Books paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Pocket Books, →ISBN, page 9:
- And in her mind's eye, Roland had been exactly such a man as this—tall, dark, foreboding even, with a strong jaw that bespoke a character worth knowing, and intelligence agleam in his eyes. As if to reaffirm her imagination, the sun broke through the trees to limn his broad shoulders with gold.
- (transitive, obsolete) To illuminate, as a manuscript; to decorate with gold or some other bright colour.
- Synonym: enlimn (to illuminate (a manuscript))
- 1721, John Strype, chapter XXV, in Ecclesiastical Memorials; Relating Chiefly to Religion, and the Reformation of It, and the Emergencies of the Church of England, under King Henry VIII. King Edward VI. and Queen Mary the First. […] In Three Volumes. […], volume I, London: Printed for John Wyat, […], OCLC 777964090, book I, page 182:
- ^ “limnen, v.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 13 May 2019.
- ^ “lūminen” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 13 May 2019.
- ^ “enlūminen” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 13 May 2019.
- ^ Compare “limn, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1903; “lumine, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1903; “limn, v.” in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press.