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
drawor paint; delineate.
- verb transitive To
- 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
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
The sheer sonic fragility of "limn" makes it easy to read as suggesting a fragile or suggestive depiction.
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