from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To describe or depict by painting or drawing.
  • transitive verb To suffuse or highlight with light or color; illuminate.
  • transitive verb To describe or portray in words.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To represent by painting or drawing; depict; delineate; hence, to describe vividly or minutely.
  • To practise drawing or painting, especially in water-colors.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To draw or paint; especially, to represent in an artistic way with pencil or brush.
  • transitive verb To picture in words; to describe in graphic terms.
  • transitive verb To illumine, as books or parchments, with ornamental figures, letters, or borders.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To draw or paint; delineate.
  • verb transitive To describe.
  • verb transitive, obsolete To illuminate, as a manuscript.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb make a portrait of
  • verb trace the shape of


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English limnen, to illuminate (a manuscript), probably alteration (influenced by limnour, illustrator) of luminen, from Old French luminer, from Latin lūmināre, to illuminate, adorn, from lūmen, lūmin-, light; see leuk- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English luminem, limnen ("to illuminate (a manuscript)"), from Middle French enluminer, from Latin illūminō ("I illuminate") (English illuminate), in + lūminō ("light up"), from lūmen ("light"), from Proto-Indo-European *lewk- (English leam ("glow")).


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  • "Sweetly are the secrets told-

    Wrapt in crystal, limned in gold."

    ~Sharon Shinn

    March 3, 2008

  • "Of course, these seven words aren’t the only ones overworked by book reviewers. After all, I haven’t even mentioned limn."

    The New York Times, Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing, by Bob Harris, March 25, 2008

    July 28, 2008

  • the coltish girl was beautifully limned

    November 6, 2009