Main definitions of limbo in English

: limbo1limbo2

limbo1

noun

  • 1(in some Christian beliefs) the supposed abode of the souls of unbaptized infants, and of the just who died before Christ's coming.

    • ‘At school, like my peers, I was indoctrinated in the mysteries of original and venal sin, virgin birth, the respective criteria for entry to limbo, purgatory, and heaven.’
    • ‘She wore a black bonnet to match her dress and gloves; to Jeremiah she looked like an engraving he'd once seen of a restless soul in limbo.’
    • ‘Some theologians have taught the existence of a place or state called Limbo which is intermediate between Heaven and Hell.’
    oblivion, void, non-existence, neither heaven nor hell
    View synonyms
  • 2An uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition:

    ‘the legal battle could leave the club in limbo until next year’
    • ‘Your money will be in limbo until the end of the year.’
    • ‘But the decision still left them in limbo until a final decision could be made on the park's future.’
    • ‘Is their investigation and resolution to be left in limbo?’
    • ‘The inquiry is in limbo because of the decision of the court today.’
    • ‘As a result, nominees have been left in limbo, courthouses sit empty, justice is delayed, political rhetoric has escalated and political civility has suffered.’
    • ‘But the move was widely criticised with North Yorkshire MPs claiming it was ‘absolutely scandalous’ and had left passengers in limbo for a further two years.’
    • ‘I suffered for eight months in limbo whilst awaiting the Crown Prosecution Service decision.’
    • ‘He was left in limbo by Scottish Labour's Executive, which refused to endorse his candidacy until Fife police concluded their investigations into the case.’
    • ‘The 1950s recordings have been in limbo until recently, boasting neither modern sound nor superlative sentimental value.’
    • ‘The government could have been left in limbo for weeks in conditions where the IMF, the World Bank and business leaders are demanding immediate action to try to pull the economy out of a deep recession.’
    • ‘The players and the many supporters who turn out each week to get behind their club, deserve much better than being left in limbo for an indefinite period.’
    • ‘But now it has been revealed that plans to set up the club are in limbo as Bradford Council, which owns the building, negotiates a fee with Youth Services - one of its own departments.’
    • ‘Spin FM, which was due to begin broadcasting last February, remains in limbo, at least until after the Supreme Court hear the appeal towards the end of this year.’
    • ‘At the time of going to press, Sligo Airport is still sitting in limbo, as it awaits the decision of the Department of Transport's Aviation Authority.’
    • ‘And now the collapse of a proposed move to Blackburn Rovers has left his club career in limbo as he concentrates on the vital role of Australia's over-age captain in Greece.’
    • ‘So there they stayed, in limbo, until after resolution 1441 when last November they were allowed to return.’
    • ‘Oxfam Ireland, calling for talks on farming subsidies to resume as early as possible, said developing nations will be in limbo until a date for further negotiations is set.’
    • ‘For two years the album had been stuck in limbo, until someone introduced him into the right circles.’
    • ‘So that leaves shareholders in limbo until further details are released.’
    • ‘The controversial defection law was put on ice yesterday pending a Constitutional Court decision, leaving some politicians in limbo and others scrambling for survival.’
    in abeyance, unattended to, unfinished, incomplete
    suspended, deferred, postponed, put off, pending, in a state of suspension, awaiting action, on ice, in cold storage
    unresolved, undetermined, in a state of uncertainty, up in the air, in no man's land, betwixt and between
    ongoing, outstanding, hanging fire
    abandoned, forgotten, left out, neglected
    on the back burner, on hold
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A state of neglect or oblivion:
      ‘these prisoners are in limbo: no one is responsible for their welfare’
      • ‘In time, argues Winnicott, the transitional object is relegated to limbo, neither mourned nor forgotten, just losing its meaning.’
      in abeyance, unattended to, unfinished, incomplete
      suspended, deferred, postponed, put off, pending, in a state of suspension, awaiting action, on ice, in cold storage
      unresolved, undetermined, in a state of uncertainty, up in the air, in no man's land, betwixt and between
      ongoing, outstanding, hanging fire
      abandoned, forgotten, left out, neglected
      on the back burner, on hold
      View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English: from the medieval Latin phrase in limbo, from limbus hem, border, limbo.

Pronunciation:

limbo

/ˈlɪmbəʊ/

Main definitions of limbo in English

: limbo1limbo2

limbo2

noun

  • A West Indian dance in which the dancer bends backwards to pass under a horizontal bar which is progressively lowered to a position just above the ground.

    • ‘Play limbo, dance barefoot and swim like a tropical fish.’
    • ‘The Trinidadians must take credit/responsibility for the limbo, that impressive athletic feat which is now the scourge of every tropical party.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • Perform the limbo:

    ‘the children limboed under the bar’
    • ‘Conway Twitty was playing on my dad's phonograph, and she was dancing the limbo.’
    • ‘Children from the day nursery made their own party food and danced and performed the limbo.’
    • ‘IMAGINE YOU'RE DOING the limbo, only don't allow your back to bend backward.’
    • ‘While listening to calypso music, many of those being entertained like to dance the limbo, a dance very popular among Grenadian Americans.’

Origin

1950s: from limber.

Pronunciation:

limbo

/ˈlɪmbəʊ/