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limb 1

1. One of the larger branches of a tree.
2. One of the jointed appendages of an animal, such as an arm, leg, wing, or flipper, used for locomotion or grasping.
3. An extension or a projecting part, as of a building or mountain range.
a. An extension or part distinguished from the main body or group: the conservative limb of the party.
b. A member or representative of a group: was arrested by a burly limb of the law.
5. Archaic An impish child.
tr.v. limbed, limb·ing, limbs
To remove the branches from.
(out) on a limb Informal
In a difficult, awkward, or vulnerable position.

[Alteration (probably influenced by limb) of Middle English lim, from Old English.]

limb 2

1. Astronomy The circumferential edge of the apparent disk of a celestial body.
2. Mathematics The edge of a graduated arc or circle used in an instrument to measure angles.
3. Botany The expanded tip of a plant organ, such as a petal or corolla lobe.

[Middle English limbe, graduated edge of an astronomical instrument, from Old French, from Latin limbus, border.]


  • ashtanga - Sanskrit for "having eight parts"—referring to the eight limbs or sutras of yoga; ashtanga yoga is also known as power yoga.
  • basket case - Originally slang denoting a soldier who had lost all four limbs, thus unable to move independently.
  • stretch - Originally meant "lengthening the limbs" or making them stiffer by stretching.
  • hurkle, hurple - To hurkle or hurple is to draw one's limbs in and scrunch up the shoulders in reaction to the cold or in a storm.
References in classic literature ?
Fifteen- year-old Jo was very tall, thin, and brown, and reminded one of a colt, for she never seemed to know what to do with her long limbs, which were very much in her way.
Madame Ratignolle begged Robert to accompany her to the house; she complained of cramp in her limbs and stiffness of the joints.
The expanded chest, full formed limbs, and grave countenance of this warrior, would denote that he had reached the vigor of his days, though no symptoms of decay appeared to have yet weakened his manhood.
Finding the new guest there,--with a bloom on her cheeks like the morning's own, and a gentle stir of departing slumber in her limbs, as when an early breeze moves the foliage, --the dawn kissed her brow.
By its perfect shape, its vigour, and its natural dexterity in the use of all its untried limbs, the infant was worthy to have been brought forth in Eden: worthy to have been left there to be the plaything of the angels after the world's first parents were driven out.
Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air.
Where, in the bottomless deeps, could he find the torn limbs of his brother?
His face was an exceedingly round but sober one; he was dressed in a faded blue woollen frock or shirt, and patched trowsers; and had thus far been dividing his attention between a marlingspike he held in one hand, and a pill-box held in the other, occasionally casting a critical glance at the ivory limbs of the two crippled captains.
Jurgis could see her outstretched hands, shaking and twitching, roaming here and there over the bed at will, like living things; he could see convulsive shudderings start in her body and run through her limbs.
Instantly the flexible limbs of the child assumed the appearance of deformity and distortion, as, with his back humped up, and his master's stick in his hand, he hobbled about the room, his childish face drawn into a doleful pucker, and spitting from right to left, in imitation of an old man.
Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.
I should get up, sir, to acknowledge such an honour as this visit,' said he, 'only my limbs are rather out of sorts, and I am wheeled about.