Definition of limit in English:



  • 1A point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass.

    ‘the failure showed the limits of British power’
    ‘the 10-minute limit on speeches’
    ‘there was no limit to his imagination’
    • ‘No concept can allow us to rise so far: yet the aesthetic experience, which involves a perpetual striving to pass beyond the limits of our point of view, seems to embody what cannot be thought.’
    • ‘But they had spent to their limit on research and over their limit to complete the first stages of production.’
    • ‘It appears he may have stepped beyond the limits of what he might otherwise have done.’
    • ‘While I'm perfectly fine with nudity and crassness, sometimes it felt as though shots were composed to test the limits of what could pass the censors.’
    • ‘But in a highly-critical judgment he was told he had acted beyond the limits of his expertise and ‘abused his position as a doctor’.’
    • ‘They arrived at a slow-moving river, somewhere beyond the limits of Ryan and Allie's family's property, but not near anyone else's.’
    • ‘If one is beyond the limits of acceptable political discourse, then surely the other is, too.’
    • ‘He means that it will be played on the edge of, and beyond, the limits of legality.’
    • ‘As such, each member has seized the opportunity to kick their performances up several notches, all playing beyond my perceived limits of their abilities.’
    • ‘Power management software can orchestrate the graceful shutdown of critical systems when power outages extend beyond the limits of backup systems.’
    • ‘This book presents the final version of Chaitin's course on the limits of mathematical reasoning.’
    • ‘But developing nations will generally borrow up to - and beyond - the limits of their ability to make the interest payments.’
    • ‘The awe in which he was held allowed him to extend his influence beyond the formal limits of his office.’
    • ‘Behind her, a woman - presumably her mother - was standing nearby trying to make sure her sari did not unwrap itself beyond the limits of Indian modesty.’
    • ‘The hunting community exists beyond the limits of what these people consider acceptable behaviour.’
    • ‘Well, I am hoping to convince you that they passed far beyond the normal limits of statutory construction, the changing of the meaning of.’
    • ‘It is no longer necessary to be content with a cheap gadget, simply because the branded one is priced beyond the limits of the family budget.’
    • ‘Astronomy had its first close encounter with physics in the era of Kepler and Newton, but the consequences of that conjunction extended only to the limits of the solar system.’
    • ‘The request to move out comes because the power of the live missile with a warhead goes beyond the safety limits of the firing range and shrapnel could be blasted on to surrounding land.’
    • ‘These issues are moving the limits of storage from its technological limit to its practical limit.’
    1. 1.1often limits The terminal point or boundary of an area or movement.
      ‘the city limits’
      ‘the upper limit of the tidal reaches’
      • ‘One interesting note was that the official speed limit within city limits is 60 km nation wide, unless otherwise posted.’
      • ‘How can one feel like a citizen of a geographic area whose limits one can't place and whose capital cities one can't name?’
      • ‘The group slipped quickly down and back outside, following Don outside the city limits and into the forest.’
      • ‘We must identify a plot of land outside the city limits.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, suburban sprawl in the area limits further extension of the quarry perimeter, and it is likely that this quarry may run out of stone to blast by 2015.’
      • ‘Even more impressive is the car's overtaking performance once outside the city limits, where the boost from the turbocharger enables the car to whoosh past slower traffic in a very relaxed way.’
      • ‘Four towers, originally built to demarcate the boundaries of Bangalore, are now very much inside city limits.’
      • ‘The 82nd Airborne couldn't move from outside the city's limits without getting hammered.’
      • ‘Start by finding a list of practices near where you live, as surgeries have boundary limits and you need to make sure you're within their area.’
      • ‘Any excursion outside Brandon city limits was bound to reveal several new chunks smeared on the highway in neverending configurations of minced meat and bone.’
      • ‘As a girl Ziana's grandfather had taken her camping outside of the city limits on several occasions.’
      • ‘The stolen pets change hands within a day or two and are sold to people outside the city limits, which make it very difficult for the owner to trace the stolen pet.’
      • ‘In the past, US strategy has placed explicit or implicit limits on the movement of American forces along these three axes.’
      • ‘At the extreme tidal limits in wet areas, organic production may exceed sediment supply and peaty organic sediments may then accumulate.’
      • ‘Between 1503 and 1506 he was imprisoned for forging a document, branded on the face, and confined to the city limits.’
      • ‘There's little room to expand on the 100-acre Walter Reed campus in Washington, and city height limits forbid tall buildings.’
      • ‘More important, in my opinion, are term limits in other areas of the government.’
      • ‘Justice Morin held that the City had the authority, pursuant to the provisions of the Municipal Act, to designate any area within the City limits as an area where smoking is prohibited.’
      • ‘Figures showed that amounts of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide were predicted to exceed allowed annual limits in five areas of the city.’
      • ‘Taking a city tram from Basel as far as its terminus at the city limits, I followed the road on foot.’
      boundary, border, boundary line, bound, bounding line, partition line, frontier, edge, demarcation line, end point, cut-off point, termination
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    2. 1.2 The furthest extent of one's physical or mental endurance.
      ‘Mary Ann tried everyone's patience to the limit’
      • ‘The next four hours were pushing her mental skills to the limit.’
      • ‘It won't be the first time the keen sportsman has pushed the boundaries of human endurance to the limit in the name of charity.’
      • ‘To a mountaineer it is the challenge of pushing physical resources to the limit by striving to achieve a demanding goal.’
      • ‘It could take them six weeks to complete, will see them race over almost 4000 nautical miles and push their mental and physical abilities to the limit.’
      • ‘It was a while before the children realized that these two marines, laden with arms to the limit of physical endurance, were not going to hurt them.’
      • ‘I have suffered to the limit of my endurance, but I will never in my sane senses surrender to the evil power that has fixed its roots like a cancer on the world.’
      • ‘With a gruelling fitness regime to get through, the pressure is on as the eight stretch their physical and mental endurance levels to the limit.’
      • ‘Men and women crews train equally hard, and race to the limit of their physical capability - what's the difference?’
      • ‘Each heat will pit the entrants against each other in series of specially designed, sporting competitions which will push them to their physical and mental limits.’
      • ‘Overall you sense a band stretching each other to the limit, reaching out to invent a new format which would eventually become their downfall.’
      • ‘They may not be illegal, but he's always pushing that ethical edge to the limit.’
      • ‘The CD pushes the listener to the limit of endurance, virtually begs you dismiss it as a depressing case of style over substance, then suddenly reveals hidden depths.’
      • ‘Motivation controls voluntary behavior up to the limit of physical capacity.’
      • ‘It is all about recognising your physical and mental limits and training within them until you are ready to go a little beyond them.’
      • ‘We have had two hard days on the water and I have come nearly to the limit of my endurance.’
      • ‘The confidence based on the fact that I trained to the limit of my mental and physical capacity made me think so.’
      • ‘Contrary to the impression created by the end result, however, the intricate machinery and the mental processes were stressed to the limit as Schumacher won nine of the 10 races held so far.’
      • ‘As an 18-year-old, they take you to the limit of your endurance.’
      • ‘Candidates push themselves to the limit in a test that assess mental as well as physical toughness during a barrier test for army special forces entry.’
      • ‘That means stretching your mind and emotions and endurance to the limit and therefore getting stronger and stronger day by day.’
      utmost, breaking point, extremity, greatest extent, ultimate, end point, the bitter end
      the last straw, the straw that broke the camel's back, enough, more than enough
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  • 2A restriction on the size or amount of something permissible or possible.

    ‘an age limit’
    ‘a weight limit’
    • ‘Mr Cullen said the size limits were being reviewed to ensure effective competition and to take account of ongoing developments in the retail sector.’
    • ‘Providing there are age limits and other rules, but I see no reason why locals should be denied the opportunity to have a little fun.’
    • ‘They have unilaterally removed class size limits at colleges.’
    • ‘NSW Fisheries set strict bag limits and sizes and they are continually being reviewed to ensure fish stocks are preserved for the future.’
    • ‘The task of the Charter was to give this concept as clear limits as possible.’
    • ‘Two more conventional measures, species-specific size restrictions and catch limits, appear in only a small number of fishing accords.’
    • ‘Since permissible limits in India are as high as to accommodate these pollutants, they cannot be booked under pollution control rules.’
    • ‘Under the scheme, local authorities are set limits on the amount of biodegradable waste - like paper and garden refuse - they can dump in landfill sites.’
    • ‘‘We have not put any restrictions on the age limit,’ says V.K. Jayan, of Terracrafts, who leads the workshop.’
    • ‘A system of private property governed by a rule of law sets limits on the permissible form of competition for resources.’
    • ‘You can digitise almost all of your music collection (within certain limits due to copyright restrictions).’
    • ‘Reformists say the amount of public funding limits for the conventions and the campaigns need to be raised so candidates won't have to turn to private interest money.’
    • ‘The suspended particulate matter is above permissible limits.’
    • ‘Restrictions enacted under previous state legislation impose limits on the amount districts can increase their budgets.’
    • ‘Just how far can science push the possible limits?’
    • ‘The Food Standards Agency has already set limits on the amount of salt people should eat, with a high-profile campaign urging them to consume less than 6 grams a day.’
    • ‘You have a company pension that was set up under the current regime, which is a cat's cradle of limits, restrictions, and extremely complicated rules.’
    • ‘Government mandated limits on the amount of the chemicals that can be fed to the fish.’
    • ‘The dog is small enough to meet the size requirements of leases that put limits on the size of pets.’
    • ‘St-Maurice also says that setting limits for the amount of drugs found in someone's system is a political, and contradictory, issue.’
    maximum, ceiling, limitation, upper limit
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    1. 2.1 A speed limit.
      ‘a 30 mph limit’
      • ‘I've been told by Bangkok officials that the maximum speed limit within city limits is 60 KPH nationally.’
      • ‘It's a tricky stretch, because it's two lanes all the way, so people assume the limit is 40 mph, but it's not.’
      • ‘Like it or lump it the present system is going to have to do - same limits, speed cameras, high fines.’
      • ‘One motorist was caught travelling at more than twice the limit in a 30 mph zone.’
      • ‘Mr Faughnan said the main problem was that many speed limits were set too low, particularly 30 mph limits.’
      • ‘Legislation is now in place to collect fines at one mph over the limit - yet in law there has always been a 10% allowance for wear and tear of the speedometer.’
      • ‘Although some cameras do operate outside schools, a vast majority of them are placed on busy roads with 30 or 40 mph limits, often not even in a built up area.’
      • ‘If someone cannot drive according to the limits, conditions and traffic flow then they shouldn't be out driving at all.’
      • ‘Speed limit signs, warning drivers that the limit is 30 mph, have also been erected.’
      • ‘If the cameras are too close together it will create a bottleneck as people drive within the limit.’
      • ‘At one stage we hit 90 mph in a thirty-mile limit.’
      • ‘Speed limits on high-speed roads, and the actual extreme percentile speeds, have generally decreased.’
      • ‘After our country's previous success with speed limit reductions to 55 mph, a lower limit should be even more attractive to the public.’
      • ‘The remaining 16 reported regularly travelling up to 10 km/h above the limit.’
      • ‘Apparently one of those camera things snapped me breaking the limit in a thirty mph zone.’
      • ‘In practice the police do exercise some discretion when confronting a motorist driving a few mph over the limit.’
      • ‘He added that we could run at track speed but that if the train were to exceed 30 cars the limit would be 60 mph.’
      • ‘Another story to achieve widespread circulation is the one of the motorist caught exceeding the limit by a speed camera in Cheshire.’
      • ‘The old man in a white Cadillac was driving down the road ten mph under the limit with his left turn signal on while on a cell phone!’
      • ‘Mr Brown's car had been videoed travelling at 42 mph in a 30 limit and he had gone to the police office to view the video.’
    2. 2.2also legal limit The maximum concentration of alcohol in the blood that the law allows in the driver of a motor vehicle.
      ‘the risk of drinkers inadvertently going over the limit’
      • ‘Three hours later, a blood sample showed he was twice the legal limit for alcohol.’
      • ‘It tells of a study conducted in Britain where it was found that using a cellphone was more of an impairment to driving than being over the legal 0,08 percent blood alcohol limit.’
      • ‘The legal limit for pilots and cabin crew is 20 milligrams of alcohol per hundred millilitres of blood, while the limit for driving is 80 milligrams of alcohol.’
      • ‘Australian drink-drive levels are also lower, with blood concentration limit of 0.05 per cent compared with 0.08 per cent in Britain.’
      • ‘into whether the current blood alcohol limit for driving should be lowered from 80 mg per 100 ml to 50 mg.’
      • ‘As a result, it has asked the Government to consider developing legislation which would set a blood alcohol limit for people on watch duty on board vessels.’
      • ‘As written, the story seems to contend that lowering of the blood alcohol limit is largely the result of the federal government offering more highway money as an incentive.’
      • ‘His blood alcohol level was nearly two and a half times over the limit when the blood test was taken at approximately 6.20 am.’
      • ‘Tests showed that he had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.’
      • ‘He was arrested and breathalysed and found by blood analysis to be slightly over the limit, with a reading of 85.’
      • ‘The current prescribed Blood Alcohol Concentration limit in China is 0.03.’
      • ‘The other driver had been 2 times over the legal alcohol limit and had run the red light at 75 miles per hour and totaled both cars.’
      • ‘Why would it not include someone who has a blood alcohol content above the limit for driving a motor vehicle?’
      • ‘Campaigners also warned party-goers that taking to the roads the morning after could be just as dangerous, with blood alcohol levels over the limit.’
      • ‘Despite ever-growing public abhorrence of this most antisocial crime, numbers of drivers caught over the limit are rising.’
      • ‘In Bulgaria the blood alcohol limit for motorists is 0.05, that is, 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood.’
      • ‘I sincerely hope the British Medical Association is successful in its campaign to drive down the legal alcohol limit for drivers.’
      • ‘The survey also found that a lot of people thought the alcohol limit for drivers would be higher than at home.’
      • ‘For a driver with twice the legal limit of alcohol in the blood they are more than 30 times more likely to have an accident than one who has not been drinking.’
      • ‘It is expected to make speeding punishments more flexible, with drivers caught marginally over the limit getting two penalty points and those way over, six.’
  • 3Mathematics
    A point or value which a sequence, function, or sum of a series can be made to approach progressively, until they are as close to it as desired.

    • ‘In fact, the sequence converges to a limit whose value is 2.7182818.’
    • ‘Around this time he discovered conditions under which a function is a limit of a sequence of continuous functions.’
    • ‘As the students themselves have observed, repeated magnification of a graph can not conclusively show the value of a limit.’
    • ‘We begin in section 2 with two simple examples to show that the pointwise limit of a sequence of analytic functions need not be analytic.’
    • ‘So again, we would want the limit of this sequence to be 1 / 0.’


  • Set or serve as a limit to.

    ‘try to limit the amount you drink’
    ‘class sizes are limited to a maximum of 10’
    ‘a limiting factor’
    • ‘This is a rate limiting step, as a simultaneous start was needed across all 20 sites.’
    • ‘This is limiting my choices and is a very shallow approach to relationships.’
    • ‘It is aimed at limiting the damage done to the government electorally with a tiny pension rise this year.’
    • ‘New government regulations limiting the sort of DIY work that amateurs can carry out.’
    • ‘This may be due to effective treatments or the self limiting nature of the illnesses.’
    • ‘Another major factor limiting the Europeans' performances has to be the heat and humidity.’
    • ‘This year it has gone further, limiting the amount of time they can spend covering for absent colleagues.’
    • ‘Fishing effort could also be controlled by licensing boats and limiting their catches.’
    • ‘Phillips has been released on bail with restrictions limiting his access to computers.’
    • ‘We are now using the engine as a tool for maximising performance, not limiting it.’
    • ‘He asks whether there are any regulations limiting the number of teaching hours a teacher is required to do.’
    • ‘Avoid high demands for air during the dive by limiting your depth and work-rate.’
    • ‘By limiting the number of children, they intended to give them better opportunities.’
    • ‘Heat stress is a major factor limiting growth of cool-season plant species in many areas.’
    • ‘If you stop consumers spending by limiting their credit then recession is inevitable.’
    • ‘This proposal would reduce the cost of insurance by limiting the amount that has to be paid out.’
    • ‘Water availability is a major factor limiting the occurrence, abundance and growth of trees.’
    • ‘Damage can help the designer by limiting the amount of force that the structure attracts.’
    • ‘Even where nutrients are scarce, this may not be of much importance if the prime limiting factor is water.’
    • ‘It can be limited to serve only as a convenient portable reading device.’
    restrict, curb, check, place a limit on, cap, keep within bounds, hold in check, restrain, put a brake on, hold, freeze, peg
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  • be the limit

    • informal Be intolerably troublesome or irritating.

      ‘you are the limit—you're suspicious of everything!’
      • ‘Generally I don't have much fear of clambering over things and taking risks but this was the limit.’
  • off limits

    • 1Out of bounds.

      ‘the site was off limits to the public’
      • ‘You have to stand up and declare yourself off limits to emotional terrorism.’
      • ‘Now I have made the point more than once that this column is strictly off limits for political partisanship.’
      • ‘Up to recently these waters were off limits to Western travelers.’
      • ‘Anything to the right of yellow is strictly off limits.’
      • ‘Scientists are on the scene, but the mountain is off limits to hikers and climbers.’
      • ‘Places that are off limits are especially interesting and should be explored thoroughly.’
      • ‘Perhaps we should have dug deeper because it's quite apparent now that the whole topic was off limits.’
      • ‘After the war, Midway remained one of America's military linchpins, and was kept firmly off limits to visitors.’
      • ‘Authorities made the area off limits to fishing, leaving hundreds out of work.’
      • ‘In our puritanical world, where marriages were arranged, romance was off limits.’
      1. 1.1Not to be mentioned or discussed.
        ‘it was apparent that the whole topic was off limits’
        • ‘You may remember that he did a Today interview with John Humphreys in which Iraq was off limits.’
        • ‘A lot of Americans realize that serious security thinking at the university level requires a free-for-all in which you can't put some subjects off limits for debate.’
        • ‘His private life was off limits during the interview.’
        • ‘He finally agrees on the condition that discussion of the manager's future is off limits.’
        • ‘I honestly don't know why this argument is off limits.’
        • ‘You have the right to free speech in this country with certain areas being off limits.’
        • ‘Methodology in turn falls under the gaze of epistemology, the investigation of investigation itself - nothing is off limits to scientific questioning.’
        • ‘At no time has Latham stated categorically that the topic of tax-cuts are off limits.’
        • ‘The steady shift to the right in official political circles and in the corporate-controlled media puts the most fundamental issues off limits in any encounter between president and press.’
        • ‘Discussion of the Civil War seemed to be off limits.’
        taboo, censored, forbidden, banned, interdicted, proscribed, prohibited, not to be spoken of, ineffable, unspeakable, unutterable, unprintable, indescribable, out of bounds, beyond the pale, off limits, that dare not speak its name, disapproved of, frowned on
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  • within limits

    • Moderately; up to a point.

      ‘airlines used to be able, within limits, to land or take off more or less when they pleased’
      • ‘This is about allowing people their personal choice, within limits.’
      • ‘My first boss, Roger, reckoned that the key to world progress and prosperity lay in an informed and, within limits, tolerant appreciation of cultural differences.’
      • ‘I was also allowed, within limits, to photograph some of the items, careful not to disturb the integrity of the still unprotected diaries, photos and notebooks.’
      • ‘Because this year at least one music company will be releasing CDs that positively invite copying - within limits.’
      • ‘Most of the adults on these campuses agree that human beings are sinners, prone to make mistakes, and, within limits, it's the job of the college to help set them on the right course, rather than simply kick them out.’
      • ‘So a textualist could, in principle and within limits, allow both a politically liberal and a politically conservative reading of the Constitution's text.’
      • ‘The reason farming needs protection is also the reason we can, within limits, have the sort of farming we want: our post-agricultural economy makes us rich enough to afford it.’
      • ‘What counts in analogical comparison is, within limits, inherently contestable.’
      • ‘This is the game that teachers train their students to play: think without limits, practice within limits.’
      • ‘Further, he was prepared to acknowledge and within limits even to tolerate the fact that the influence of Marxism itself had been thoroughly undermined, especially among the young.’
      comparatively, in comparison, by comparison, proportionately
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  • without limit

    • With no restriction.

      ‘the potential energy does not increase without limit’
      • ‘Lastly, it settles for a method which is an extension of Islamic metaphysics by stating that ‘knowledge is limitless because the objects of knowledge are without limit.’’
      • ‘She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of United States.’
      • ‘As a poet, his technical resources seem to have been without limit.’
      • ‘That belief is one reason why he has so often and conspicuously argued to have boatloads of illegal aliens accepted without limit.’
      • ‘In seventeen cases the disposal was as it would have been prior to the passage of the 1991 Act, a restriction order without limit of time.’
      • ‘They can divide without limit, which is what makes them so deadly.’
      • ‘He was ordered to be detained without limit later that year after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.’
      • ‘He said it's just a matter of time before nation-states accept the reality that they can't use their authority without limit and trample on human rights.’
      • ‘I think we're meeting all conceivable moral obligations to the elderly, and I don't see any reason to suppose those obligations increase without limit just because we earn more money.’
      • ‘Better yet, the possibilities for an infiltrator in the development team who build the system would be literally without limit.’
      boundless, unbounded, unlimited, without limit, illimitable
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Late Middle English: from Latin limes, limit- ‘boundary, frontier’. The verb is from Latin limitare, from limes.