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[lim-it] /ˈlɪm ɪt/
the final, utmost, or furthest boundary or point as to extent, amount, continuance, procedure, etc.:
the limit of his experience; the limit of vision.
a boundary or bound, as of a country, area, or district.
  1. a number such that the value of a given function remains arbitrarily close to this number when the independent variable is sufficiently close to a specified point or is sufficiently large. The limit of 1/ x is zero as x approaches infinity; the limit of (x − 1) 2 is zero as x approaches 1.
  2. a number such that the absolute value of the difference between terms of a given sequence and the number approaches zero as the index of the terms increases to infinity.
  3. one of two numbers affixed to the integration symbol for a definite integral, indicating the interval or region over which the integration is taking place and substituted in a primitive, if one exists, to evaluate the integral.
limits, the premises or region enclosed within boundaries:
We found them on school limits after hours.
Games. the maximum sum by which a bet may be raised at any one time.
the limit, Informal. something or someone that exasperates, delights, etc., to an extreme degree:
You have made errors before, but this is the limit.
verb (used with object)
to restrict by or as if by establishing limits (usually followed by to):
Please limit answers to 25 words.
to confine or keep within limits:
to limit expenditures.
Law. to fix or assign definitely or specifically.
Origin of limit
1325-75; Middle English lymyt < Latin līmit- (stem of līmes) boundary, path between fields
Related forms
limitable, adjective
limitableness, noun
overlimit, verb (used with object)
relimit, verb (used with object)
underlimit, noun
underlimit, verb (used with object)
Can be confused
boundary, limit, parameter, variable (see synonym study at boundary; see usage note at parameter)
limit, limitation.
2. confine, frontier, border. 8. restrain, bound. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for limit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Do this up to the limit of your capital and I will make good anything you lose.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • They're negotiating now with the Rothschilds to limit the output of the Rio Tinto mines.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • There is no limit to the moral baseness of the man of avarice.

  • As much money as they would pay me was the limit of my expectation.

  • It was in fact a little way beyond what she had come to count her limit.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for limit


(sometimes pl) the ultimate extent, degree, or amount of something: the limit of endurance
(often pl) the boundary or edge of a specific area: the city limits
(often pl) the area of premises within specific boundaries
the largest quantity or amount allowed
  1. a value to which a function f(x) approaches as closely as desired as the independent variable approaches a specified value (x = a) or approaches infinity
  2. a value to which a sequence an approaches arbitrarily close as n approaches infinity
  3. the limit of a sequence of partial sums of a convergent infinite series: the limit of 1 + ½ + ¼ + ⅛ + … is 2
(maths) one of the two specified values between which a definite integral is evaluated
(informal) the limit, a person or thing that is intolerably exasperating
off limits
  1. out of bounds
  2. forbidden to do or use: smoking was off limits everywhere
within limits, to a certain or limited extent: I approve of it within limits
verb (transitive) -its, -iting, -ited
to restrict or confine, as to area, extent, time, etc
(law) to agree, fix, or assign specifically
Derived Forms
limitable, adjective
limitableness, noun
limitless, adjective
limitlessly, adverb
limitlessness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin līmes boundary
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for limit

c.1400, "boundary, frontier," from Old French limite "a boundary," from Latin limitem (nominative limes) "a boundary, limit, border, embankment between fields," related to limen "threshold." Originally of territory; general sense from early 15c. Colloquial sense of "the very extreme, the greatest degree imaginable" is from 1904.


late 14c., from Old French limiter "mark (a boundary), restrict; specify," from Latin limitare "to bound, limit, fix," from limes "boundary, limit" (see limit (n.)). Related: limited; limiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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limit in Medicine

limit lim·it (lĭm'ĭt)

  1. The point, edge, or line beyond which something cannot or may not proceed.

  2. A confining or restricting object, agent, or influence.

  3. The greatest or least amount, number, or extent allowed or possible.

v. lim·it·ed, lim·it·ing, lim·its
  1. To confine or restrict within a boundary or bounds.

  2. To fix definitely; to specify.

lim'it·a·ble adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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limit in Science
A number or point for which, from a given set of numbers or points, one can choose an arbitrarily close number or point. For example, for the set of all real numbers greater than zero and less than one, the numbers one and zero are limit points, since one can pick a number from the set arbitrarily close to one or zero (even though one and zero are not themselves in the set). Limits form the basis for calculus, where a number L is defined to be the limit approached by a function f(x) as x approaches a if, for every positive number ε, there exists a number δ such that |f(x)-L| < ε if 0 < |x-a| < δ.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with limit
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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