A Word A Day : Limbo

Sunday, 25th May 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : lím-bō


1. a state in which somebody or something is neglected or is simply left in oblivion

2. In Roman Catholic theology, the place that is believed to be home to the souls of children who died before baptism and the souls of the righteous who died before Jesus Christ. Although they are barred from entry to heaven, they are not condemned to the eternal suffering of hell.

3. an intermediate place or state

4. a region or condition of oblivion or neglect


14th century - Latin - on the border (of hell) - form of limbus - border - edge




certainty, certitude, sureness, surety

Contextual Examples:

• A little fact is worth a whole limbo of dreams.

• Management kept her promotion in limbo for months.

• My lean runner's stomach has passed into the limbo of memory.

• They were both shadows and this was the unending limbo of toil.

• No ship is wholly bad and now that their bodies that had braved so many tempests have been blown off the face of the sea by a puff of steam, the evil and the good together into the limbo of things that have served their time, there can be no harm in affirming that in these vanished generations of willing servants there never has been one utterly unredeemable soul.

Related Words:

limbos : Noun - Plural


Our use of the word limbo to refer to states of oblivion, confinement or transition is derived from the theological sense of Limbo as a place where souls remain that cannot enter heaven, for example, unbaptized infants. Limbo in Roman Catholic theology is located on the border of Hell which explains the name chosen for it. The Latin word limbus having meanings such as an ornamental border to a fringe and a band or girdle was chosen by Christian theologians of the Middle Ages to denote this border region. English borrowed the word limbus directly, but the form that caught on in English limbo first recorded in a work composed around 1378, is from the ablative form of limbus, the form that would be used in expressions such as in limbō, in Limbo.

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