Monday, September 21, 2009


Limn: To limn (silent n) is to make line drawings, to outline something, to highlight it, or metaphorically to emphasize a concept or idea. With all this outlining, you might expect some etymological relation to line. However, with limn, as with many words, you must understand the origins to understand the meaning. Limn originally meant to illustrate a manuscript - before printing presses when most manuscripts were religious, most of the limners were in monasteries, and the illustrations they created were call illuminations. Here we discover that limn shares it etymology with illuminate, even though it sounds so similar to line and many writers seem to be drawn by the proximity.
Surratt leaned over the tombstone and blew a limn of white dust from over of the chiseled letters.
A Book for Today: Serena by Ron Rash

When I think of the farm, I think of mud. Limning my husband's fingernails and encrusting the children's knees and hair.

Later, when [Ian] Fleming limned his work in intelligence for Casino Royale ... he was very self-deprecating and would always say, "Of course, I'm just laying about. My stuff is nothing, despicable stuff, but [Roald Dahl's] is literature."
Quotation from:

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