Definition of limn in English:


Pronunciation /lim/ /lɪm/

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1literary Depict or describe in painting or words.

    ‘Miss Read limns a gentler world in her novels’
    • ‘Beasts, vipers and monsters descend upon a mildmannered-looking man, likely a self-portrait, while a giant, sinuous snake, limned by several wavy lines of paint, hovers overhead.’
    • ‘Here the main event is limned large on the picture plane.’
    • ‘It is LeWitt's world, of course, but in its vast accumulation of specifics, it somehow limns the general, and the resulting work could be a composite view of the life of any artist in the late 20th century.’
    • ‘The story limns the unforgiving and often repressive claims of memory and family tradition in unresolved discord.’
    • ‘Is there a bare minimum of representation that we can respond to as fully limning us?’
    • ‘In nineteen fragmented chapters riddled with ellipses, the novel limns the discrete and sometimes discomforting spectrum of desire awakened by intimations of mortality.’
    • ‘That is especially true of business journalism, which - at its best - limns both the outsize frailties of men and the hidden drama of numbers.’
    • ‘Goodrich limned some of her biography into her last known self-portrait, where she fashioned herself as an artist at work at her easel.’
    • ‘What we have is clearly limned like the work of a master lapidary.’
    • ‘I'm very worried about how news of this journey will be limned to others, if I don't make it.’
    • ‘Whatever the answer, how much more complex the alchemical process between actor and performance when the actor is called upon to give voice to a character hitherto limned only by the comments of others?’
    • ‘It's a delightful book, filled with colorful characters quickly but deftly limned.’
    • ‘The rural setting mattered, I think, for my father in each case because it limned that transition more evocatively than might have been otherwise possible.’
    • ‘Her figures and landscapes are not minutely limned in, as in the miniature tradition, each with a definite attribute and place in the cosmos.’
    • ‘Diary posits her as a threat to the insularity of the Monteils and their vapid way of life, a threat Moreau coolly limns in one of her most nuanced, restrained performances.’
    • ‘The result is a study that, while less than comprehensive, ably limns most of the major issues of the Great Lakes in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.’
    • ‘A key image for the film because it limns Kane's elusive real self, but also a key moment in film and literature for the transition from the modern to the postmodern.’
    • ‘The career limned in Four Trials shows a dedication to helping others, a deep reservoir of empathy for the unfortunate, and a passion for justice.’
    • ‘Boston's weirder early '80s contours, like the snaky lunacy of The Freeze, get limned as well.’
    • ‘The black fatality of those words seemed to stand out, stark and clear in the deep night, as though limned with her own life's blood.’
    depict, portray, render, picture, delineate, show, illustrate, characterize, paint, draw, sketch
    1. 1.1Suffuse or highlight (something) with a bright color or light.
      ‘a crescent moon limned each shred with white gold’
      • ‘The shining ship swam serenely through the upper atmosphere, light limning its skin in shafts of golden brilliance as they sailed towards the barriers ahead, proud and uncaring.’
      • ‘Unlike most of the nebulas that populate the universe, these clouds are limned by arcs or tings and bathed in the blue light emitted by helium ions.’
      • ‘The curves of her body are limned in the half-dark by light reflected from the room's reddish carpet.’
      • ‘Every shape was limned with palest gold; the air seemed full of the promise of summer and the fragrance of the roses that climbed up the side of the old classic front of the Directorate Palace.’
      • ‘He was holding the reigns of a small white horse whose long tail and mane shone as though limned with sunlight, even in the dim light allowed by the tall, narrow stone loopholes that faced south above the river.’
      • ‘Homes and hills, roads and valleys lay on the other side, limned in gold by the clear, late light.’
      • ‘Braunau in 1889 has medieval fortifications and broken Gothic arches limned with moonlight.’
      • ‘An impression came to him, then, of Lily laying fast asleep, limned in moonlight, safe and oblivious.’
      • ‘The barrier began to waver, cracks limned in shifting coronae of flame appearing as more and more shots dumped their freezing charges into the shield, taxing Ramirez to the limit.’
      • ‘The serene yet bold, contemporary forms are clad in marine plywood panels, limned in metal flashing that glints in the powerful sunlight.’
      • ‘In less than two seconds the Portal was open, a perfect circle, limned eerily by writhing feathers of blue coronal discharge.’
      • ‘There's a kind of antiqued texture to it that cannot be captured in a picture, and there are these subtle prints of wallpaper flowers flecked here and there, and some limned in delicate etchings of gold.’
      • ‘A wanderer in the vast Nevada desert comes upon yet another rock formation, a mass of craggy geometric shapes limned in the gentle hues that express eons of sedimentation.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘illuminate a manuscript’): alteration of obsolete lumine ‘illuminate’, via Old French luminer from Latin luminare ‘make light’.