from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- transitive v. To describe.
- transitive v. To depict by painting or drawing. See Synonyms at represent.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- v. To draw or paint; delineate.
- v. To describe.
- v. To illuminate, as a manuscript.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- transitive v. To draw or paint; especially, to represent in an artistic way with pencil or brush.
- transitive v. To picture in words; to describe in graphic terms.
- transitive v. To illumine, as books or parchments, with ornamental figures, letters, or borders.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To represent by painting or drawing; depict; delineate; hence, to describe vividly or minutely.
- To practise drawing or painting, especially in water-colors.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- v. make a portrait of
- v. trace the shape of
I think it is part of Dadd's predilection for double-speak and dangerous puns: "Elimination" contains the word "limn" which is a good word for painting, but also is part of Dadd's habit of decrying painting as pointless and worthless.
Tangential factoids, unrhymed chiming, and wanton speculation: New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani is somehat, er, somewhat known for her frequent use of the word limn, apparently it's an inside joke among writers and critics.
Although the Sun has used the word limn twice before in headlines (and 47 times, total, in the paper's history), those previous uses didn't occasion much, if any, comment.
It is probably a bit too harsh to call those upset by The Baltimore Sun's recent use of the word limn in a headline word-haters, but I assume they'd be even more offended by the fancy word misologists.
7, The Baltimore Sun used the word limn in a front-page headline ("Opposing votes limn difference in race").
William Safire, back in 2002, called limn a "vogue word" and gave it a life span of
But critics do have a point: the Sun's headline would have performed a lot better on the web if "limn" had been swapped out for "Justin Bieber."
Strictly defined, "limn" is a verb that means "to draw or paint on a surface" or "to outline in clear sharp detail."
And now, when you put that into Google, all the top results refer to the confusion that the word "limn" caused the city of Baltimore.
The sheer sonic fragility of "limn" makes it easy to read as suggesting a fragile or suggestive depiction.