1. The point, edge, or line beyond which something ends, may not go, or is not allowed: the 12-mile fishing limit; the limit of my patience.
2. limits The boundary surrounding a specific area; bounds: within the city limits.
3. Something that restricts or restrains; a restraint: The child needs to have limits put on his behavior.
4. The greatest or least amount, number, or extent allowed or possible: a withdrawal limit of $200; no minimum age limit.
5. Games The largest amount which may be bet at one time in games of chance.
6. Abbr. lim Mathematics
a. A number or point L that is approached by a function f(x) as x approaches a if, for every positive number ε, there exists a number δ such that |f(x)-L| < ε if |x-a| < δ.
b. A number or point L that is approached by a sequence bn if, for every positive number ε, there exists a number N such that |bn-L| < ε if n > N. Also called limit point.
7. Informal One that is intolerable, remarkable, or extreme in some other way: "That's the limit!" the babysitter exclaimed after the child spilled a glass of milk.
tr.v. lim·it·ed, lim·it·ing, lim·its
To confine or restrict with a limit: Let's limit the discussion to what is doable. The offer limits us to three for a dollar.
[Middle English limite, from Old French, border, from Latin līmes, līmit-, border, limit.]
Synonyms: limit, restrict, confine, circumscribe
These verbs mean to establish or keep within specified bounds. Limit refers principally to the establishment of a maximum beyond which a person or thing cannot or may not go: The Constitution limits the president's term of office to four years. To restrict is to keep within prescribed limits, as of choice or action: The sale of alcohol is restricted to people who are 21 and older. Confine suggests imprisonment, restraint, or impediment: The children were confined to the nursery. Circumscribe connotes an encircling or surrounding line that confines, especially narrowly: "A man ... should not circumscribe his activity by any inflexible fence of rigid rules" (John Stuart Blackie).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.