Origin of liminal
Words nearby liminal
MORE ABOUT LIMINAL
What does liminal mean?
Liminal is an adjective that’s used to describe things that exist at the threshold (or border) between one thing and another.
In psychology and physiology, the word more specifically means relating to the point (or threshold) beyond which a sensation becomes too faint to be experienced. In this way, liminal is an adjective form of the noun limen, which refers to this threshold.
Example: After graduation, many students find themselves in a liminal state before they’re fully established in the workplace.
Where does liminal come from?
The first records of the word liminal come from the late 1800s. It comes from the Latin līmen, meaning “threshold.” In its literal sense, a threshold is a doorway. Liminal is often used to describe the threshold, or gateway, between two stages.
When used in a general way, liminal is often used to describe in-between spaces, places, and feelings. Physical spaces described as liminal in this way often serve as transitional zones between one place and another—an airport might be described as liminal.
The noun form liminality is especially used in anthropology to refer to a state of transition between one stage and the next, especially between major stages in one’s life or during a rite of passage (such as puberty or marriage). Anthropologists often separate these events into preliminal, liminal, and postliminal stages. The liminal stage is the middle stage, the in-between period during which a person has not yet fully reached their new status in whatever rite of passage they are going through. (For example, being “the new kid” for a while when attending a new school, before being fully incorporated into a new group of friends.) Liminal stages like this are often marked by uncertainty.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to liminal?
- liminality (noun)
What are some synonyms for liminal?
What are some words that share a root or word element with liminal?
What are some words that often get used in discussing liminal?
How is liminal used in real life?
Liminal is most often used to describe transitional spaces and events.
"From fear to hope, and everything in-between: the uncertainty of liminal places, the new paces, the impetus and the impulse of moving ahead."
Read Enri Canaj's reflections on photographing the European migrant crisis: https://t.co/xjjMtxwr73
© Enri Canaj / Magnum Photos pic.twitter.com/Y0f9pSMlYA
— Magnum Photos (@MagnumPhotos) June 20, 2020
I know people overuse the word but 200 metres out from the shore on the harbour mud, really does begin to feel liminal pic.twitter.com/SbQpYO4kWG
— Books Landscape Magic (@BooksnMagic) June 20, 2020
Olifantsbos, where I scattered my dad's ashes. It seemed a perfect place for him; a liminal space, not walled-in by anything. Hamba kahle! pic.twitter.com/0Y2VGuxr6h
— Dawn Nell (@dawnnell) June 21, 2020
Try using liminal!
Which of the following things could be described as liminal?
A. A political revolutionary period.
B. The period between a president’s election and inauguration.
C. A probationary period at a new job.
D. All of the above.
How to use liminal in a sentence
What the scientists see in them is the faintest sign of a liminal, maybe dreamlike, consciousness.The hunt for hidden signs of consciousness in unreachable patients|Russ Juskalian|August 25, 2021|MIT Technology Review
They’d hiked directly over the top of a bear den and now dangled in the liminal space between encounter and attack.
More adventure film projects followed, and in them, Morton found his place in bike racing, a liminal space between being a WorldTour pro and a world adventurer.Meet Lachlan Morton, The Man Who Rode the Tour de France Route Solo|agintzler|July 13, 2021|Outside Online
They’re in this liminal, in-between place, this not-yet-to-be place.The strange and lonely transformation of first-time mothers in the pandemic|Caitlin Gibson|June 3, 2021|Washington Post
The success of mutual aid efforts over the last year is a reminder, I think, that in a liminal time like the one we’re in, we must link arms.These Women Are Transforming What Climate Leadership Looks Like. Here's What They Learned From the Pandemic|Elijah Wolfson|April 20, 2021|Time
This may be technically expressed by saying that the liminal intensity (Schwelle) is raised during sleep.Illusions|James Sully
The supra-liminal returns into harmony with the subliminal; the individual life and the mass-life are reunited.The Drama of Love and Death|Edward Carpenter
Meantime we are aware also of a substratum of fragmentary automatic, liminal ideas, of which we take small account.Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death|Frederick W. H. Myers