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limbo

1
[ lim-boh ]
/ ˈlɪm boʊ /
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noun, plural lim·bos.
(often initial capital letter)Roman Catholic Theology. a region on the border of hell or heaven, serving as the abode after death of unbaptized infants (limbo of infants ) and of the righteous who died before the coming of Christ (limbo of the fathers, or limbo of the patriarchs ).
a place or state of oblivion to which persons or things are regarded as being relegated when cast aside, forgotten, past, or out of date: My youthful hopes are in the limbo of lost dreams.
an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place.
a place or state of imprisonment or confinement.
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Origin of limbo

1
First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Medieval Latin phrase in limbō “on hell's border” (Latin: “on the edge”), equivalent to in + limbō, ablative of limbus “edge, border” (Latin ), “place bordering on hell” (Medieval Latin )

Other definitions for limbo (2 of 2)

limbo2
[ lim-boh ]
/ ˈlɪm boʊ /

noun, plural lim·bos.
a dance from the West Indies, originally for men only, in which the dancer bends backward from the knees and moves with a shuffling step under a horizontal bar that is lowered after each successive pass.

Origin of limbo

2
1955–60; compare Jamaican English limba to bend, easily bending; see limber1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use limbo in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for limbo (1 of 2)

limbo1
/ (ˈlɪmbəʊ) /

noun plural -bos
(often capital) RC Church the supposed abode of infants dying without baptism and the just who died before Christ
an imaginary place for lost, forgotten, or unwanted persons or things
an unknown intermediate place or condition between two extremesin limbo
a prison or confinement

Word Origin for limbo

C14: from Medieval Latin in limbo on the border (of hell)

British Dictionary definitions for limbo (2 of 2)

limbo2
/ (ˈlɪmbəʊ) /

noun plural -bos
a Caribbean dance in which dancers pass, while leaning backwards, under a bar

Word Origin for limbo

C20: origin uncertain
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

Cultural definitions for limbo

limbo

In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the afterlife, the condition of innocent persons who die without benefit of baptism; those in limbo do not suffer damnation, but they do not enjoy the presence of God. Limbo means “a bordering place.”

notes for limbo

Figuratively, “limbo” is a state of nonresolution or uncertainty: “Until he receives notice of his new posting, he'll be in limbo.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with limbo

limbo

see in limbo.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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