words that don't mean what you want them to: limn

6 October 2010 8:22 PM (words)

The verb "limn" is lovely: terse, and emenny.

I first heard it at work from my boss, jh, a great word-source. I understood it to mean "to go over, thoroughly, and calmly, touching each item. To enumerate things as one runs fingers through long hair."

Turns out it doesn't mean that at all! For posterity, the definition of limn is:


Transitive verb. Old English limnen, fr. luminen, for enluminen, French enluminer to illuminate, to limn, Latin illuminare to paint. See also Illuminate, Luminous.

1. To draw or paint; especially, to represent in an artistic way with pencil or brush. [1913 Webster]

Let a painter carelessly limn out a million of faces, and you shall find them all different. --Sir T. Browne. [1913 Webster]

2. Hence: To picture in words; to describe in graphic terms. [PJC]

3. To illumine, as books or parchments, with ornamental figures, letters, or borders. [1913 Webster]

One response

  1. William Leslie says:


    Adjective. English emanate, to radiate from a source.

    1. Shimmering, radiating light from many angles (as from a large transparent crystal). Luminous and multi-faceted. [2012 Wingolog]


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