verb (used with object)

to represent in drawing or painting.
to portray in words; describe.
Obsolete. to illuminate (manuscripts).

Origin of limn

1400–50; late Middle English lymne, variant of Middle English luminen to illuminate (manuscripts), aphetic variant of enlumine < Middle French enluminer < Latin inlūmināre to embellish, literally, light up; see illuminate
Related formsout·limn, verb (used with object)un·limned, adjective
Can be confusedlimb limn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for limned

delineate, represent, draw, describe, paint

Examples from the Web for limned

Contemporary Examples of limned

  • Why I even remember when Bill Frist was limned as some kind of great sage.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Incompetent Party

    Michael Tomasky

    January 8, 2013

Historical Examples of limned

  • This was an apparition too holy to be limned in artificial light.

    The Dragon Painter

    Mary McNeil Fenollosa

  • There was one only of the group who had not been limned by Miss Rothesay.


    Dinah Maria Craik, (AKA Dinah Maria Mulock)

  • Its fiery parabola was limned against the sky toward the east.

  • Every feature of the old captains face was limned with grief.


    George Allan England

  • No one talks of "limning a missal," or of a "limned missal."

British Dictionary definitions for limned


verb (tr)

to represent in drawing or painting
archaic to describe in words
an obsolete word for illuminate
Derived Formslimner (ˈlɪmnə), noun

Word Origin for limn

C15: from Old French enluminer to illumine (a manuscript) from Latin inlūmināre to brighten, from lūmen light
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

Word Origin and History for limned



early 15c., "to illuminate" (manuscripts), altered from Middle English luminen, "to illuminate manuscripts" (late 14c.), from Old French luminer "light up, illuminate," from Latin luminare "illuminate, burnish," from lumen (genitive luminis) "radiant energy, light," related to lucere "to shine" (see light (n.)). Sense of "portray, depict" first recorded 1590s. Related: Limned.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper