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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.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


  • 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.
Farlex Trivia Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
'No, shipmate; on the contrary, it is the easiest thing in life: the only awkward point is the sort of usage which our unhappy limbs may receive when we arrive at the bottom, and what sort of travelling trim we shall be in afterwards.
Like the green Martians, they have an intermediary set of arms midway between their upper and lower limbs. Their eyes are very close set, but do not protrude as do those of the green men of Mars; their ears are high set, but more laterally located than are the green men's, while their snouts and teeth are much like those of our African gorilla.
In youth, the tulip-tree, or Liriodendron Tulipferum, the most magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk peculiarly smooth, and often rises to a great height without lateral branches; but, in its riper age, the bark becomes gnarled and uneven, while many short limbs make their appearance on the stem.
He was sure from the fact that the panther moved all its limbs in its futile struggle for freedom that its spine was uninjured, and for the same reason he knew that none of its limbs were broken.
I moved, and could not feel my limbs: I was so light--almost I thought that I had died in sleep, And was a blessed ghost.
Analogous laws govern the construction of the mouths and limbs of crustaceans.
He began to regret that he had not constructed the wooden limbs more carefully and substantially.
May the heathen ruler of the winds confine in iron chains the boisterous limbs of noisy Boreas, and the sharp-pointed nose of bitter-biting Eurus.
Among the topmost leaves, which scantily concealed the gnarled and stunted limbs, a savage was nestled, partly concealed by the trunk of the tree, and partly exposed, as though looking down upon them to ascertain the effect produced by his treacherous aim.
``Here is no danger impending,'' said Waldemar Fitzurse; ``are you so little acquainted with the gigantic limbs of your father's son, as to think they can be held within the circumference of yonder suit of armour?
And from the safety of his overhanging limb the ape-child sent back the fearsome answer of his kind.
As we ran out the limb, Broken-Tooth, facing us, would begin teetering.