Definition of limit in US English:



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

    ‘the limits of presidential power’
    ‘the 10-minute limit on speeches’
    ‘there was no limit to his imagination’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The awe in which he was held allowed him to extend his influence beyond the formal limits of his office.’
    • ‘These issues are moving the limits of storage from its technological limit to its practical limit.’
    • ‘It appears he may have stepped beyond the limits of what he might otherwise have done.’
    • ‘Power management software can orchestrate the graceful shutdown of critical systems when power outages extend beyond the limits of backup systems.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As such, each member has seized the opportunity to kick their performances up several notches, all playing beyond my perceived limits of their abilities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But developing nations will generally borrow up to - and beyond - the limits of their ability to make the interest payments.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘This book presents the final version of Chaitin's course on the limits of mathematical reasoning.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1often limits The terminal point or boundary of an area or movement.
      ‘the city limits’
      ‘the upper limit of the tidal reaches’
      • ‘Between 1503 and 1506 he was imprisoned for forging a document, branded on the face, and confined to the city limits.’
      • ‘Taking a city tram from Basel as far as its terminus at the city limits, I followed the road on foot.’
      • ‘There's little room to expand on the 100-acre Walter Reed campus in Washington, and city height limits forbid tall buildings.’
      • ‘We must identify a plot of land outside the city limits.’
      • ‘One interesting note was that the official speed limit within city limits is 60 km nation wide, unless otherwise posted.’
      • ‘At the extreme tidal limits in wet areas, organic production may exceed sediment supply and peaty organic sediments may then accumulate.’
      • ‘The group slipped quickly down and back outside, following Don outside the city limits and into the forest.’
      • ‘Figures showed that amounts of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide were predicted to exceed allowed annual limits in five areas of the city.’
      • ‘More important, in my opinion, are term limits in other areas of the government.’
      • ‘As a girl Ziana's grandfather had taken her camping outside of the city limits on several occasions.’
      • ‘The 82nd Airborne couldn't move from outside the city's limits without getting hammered.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      boundary, border, boundary line, bound, bounding line, partition line, frontier, edge, demarcation line, end point, cut-off point, termination
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The furthest extent of one's physical or mental endurance.
      ‘Mary Ann tried everyone's patience to the limit’
      ‘other horses were reaching their limit’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As an 18-year-old, they take you to the limit of your endurance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They may not be illegal, but he's always pushing that ethical edge to the limit.’
      • ‘Motivation controls voluntary behavior up to the limit of physical capacity.’
      • ‘The next four hours were pushing her mental skills 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.’
      • ‘The confidence based on the fact that I trained to the limit of my mental and physical capacity made me think so.’
      • ‘It is all about recognising your physical and mental limits and training within them until you are ready to go a little beyond them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To a mountaineer it is the challenge of pushing physical resources to the limit by striving to achieve a demanding goal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Overall you sense a band stretching each other to the limit, reaching out to invent a new format which would eventually become their downfall.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We have had two hard days on the water and I have come nearly to the limit of my endurance.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
  • 2A restriction on the size or amount of something permissible or possible.

    ‘an age limit’
    ‘a weight limit’
    • ‘You can digitise almost all of your music collection (within certain limits due to copyright restrictions).’
    • ‘The task of the Charter was to give this concept as clear limits as possible.’
    • ‘They have unilaterally removed class size limits at colleges.’
    • ‘‘We have not put any restrictions on the age limit,’ says V.K. Jayan, of Terracrafts, who leads the workshop.’
    • ‘Two more conventional measures, species-specific size restrictions and catch limits, appear in only a small number of fishing accords.’
    • ‘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 dog is small enough to meet the size requirements of leases that put limits on the size of pets.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘St-Maurice also says that setting limits for the amount of drugs found in someone's system is a political, and contradictory, issue.’
    • ‘NSW Fisheries set strict bag limits and sizes and they are continually being reviewed to ensure fish stocks are preserved for the future.’
    • ‘Government mandated limits on the amount of the chemicals that can be fed to the fish.’
    • ‘Just how far can science push the possible limits?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A system of private property governed by a rule of law sets limits on the permissible form of competition for resources.’
    • ‘Restrictions enacted under previous state legislation impose limits on the amount districts can increase their budgets.’
    • ‘Since permissible limits in India are as high as to accommodate these pollutants, they cannot be booked under pollution control rules.’
    • ‘The suspended particulate matter is above permissible limits.’
    maximum, ceiling, limitation, upper limit
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    1. 2.1 A speed limit.
      ‘a 30 mph limit’
      • ‘Like it or lump it the present system is going to have to do - same limits, speed cameras, high fines.’
      • ‘In practice the police do exercise some discretion when confronting a motorist driving a few mph over the limit.’
      • ‘Mr Faughnan said the main problem was that many speed limits were set too low, particularly 30 mph limits.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘If someone cannot drive according to the limits, conditions and traffic flow then they shouldn't be out driving at all.’
      • ‘After our country's previous success with speed limit reductions to 55 mph, a lower limit should be even more attractive to the public.’
      • ‘I've been told by Bangkok officials that the maximum speed limit within city limits is 60 KPH nationally.’
      • ‘Speed limits on high-speed roads, and the actual extreme percentile speeds, have generally decreased.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Speed limit signs, warning drivers that the limit is 30 mph, have also been erected.’
      • ‘The remaining 16 reported regularly travelling up to 10 km/h above the limit.’
      • ‘Another story to achieve widespread circulation is the one of the motorist caught exceeding the limit by a speed camera in Cheshire.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At one stage we hit 90 mph in a thirty-mile limit.’
      • ‘If the cameras are too close together it will create a bottleneck as people drive within the limit.’
      • ‘One motorist was caught travelling at more than twice the limit in a 30 mph zone.’
      • ‘Apparently one of those camera things snapped me breaking the limit in a thirty mph zone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 2.2 (in card games) an agreed maximum stake or bet.
    3. 2.3also 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’
      • ‘In Bulgaria the blood alcohol limit for motorists is 0.05, that is, 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Australian drink-drive levels are also lower, with blood concentration limit of 0.05 per cent compared with 0.08 per cent in Britain.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The survey also found that a lot of people thought the alcohol limit for drivers would be higher than at home.’
      • ‘Three hours later, a blood sample showed he was twice the legal limit for alcohol.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The current prescribed Blood Alcohol Concentration limit in China is 0.03.’
      • ‘I sincerely hope the British Medical Association is successful in its campaign to drive down the legal alcohol limit for drivers.’
      • ‘Despite ever-growing public abhorrence of this most antisocial crime, numbers of drivers caught over the limit are rising.’
      • ‘Tests showed that he had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.’
      • ‘Why would it not include someone who has a blood alcohol content above the limit for driving a motor vehicle?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was arrested and breathalysed and found by blood analysis to be slightly over the limit, with a reading of 85.’
  • 3Mathematics
    A point or value that a sequence, function, or sum of a series can be made to approach progressively, until it is as close to the point or value as desired.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So again, we would want the limit of this sequence to be 1 / 0.’
    • ‘As the students themselves have observed, repeated magnification of a graph can not conclusively show the value of a limit.’


[with object]
  • Set or serve as a limit to.

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

      • ‘Generally I don't have much fear of clambering over things and taking risks but this was the limit.’
  • off limits

    • 1Out of bounds.

      ‘they declared the site off limits’
      • ‘Up to recently these waters were off limits to Western travelers.’
      • ‘Authorities made the area off limits to fishing, leaving hundreds out of work.’
      • ‘Places that are off limits are especially interesting and should be explored thoroughly.’
      • ‘Anything to the right of yellow is strictly off limits.’
      • ‘Perhaps we should have dug deeper because it's quite apparent now that the whole topic was off limits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Scientists are on the scene, but the mountain is off limits to hikers and climbers.’
      • ‘After the war, Midway remained one of America's military linchpins, and was kept firmly off limits to visitors.’
      • ‘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’
        • ‘I honestly don't know why this argument is off limits.’
        • ‘At no time has Latham stated categorically that the topic of tax-cuts are 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.’
        • ‘Discussion of the Civil War seemed to be off limits.’
        • ‘He finally agrees on the condition that discussion of the manager's future is 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.’
        • ‘His private life was off limits during the interview.’
        • ‘You may remember that he did a Today interview with John Humphreys in which Iraq was off limits.’
        • ‘Methodology in turn falls under the gaze of epistemology, the investigation of investigation itself - nothing is off limits to scientific questioning.’
        • ‘You have the right to free speech in this country with certain areas being 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
        View synonyms
  • within limits

    • Moderately; up to a point.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What counts in analogical comparison is, within limits, inherently contestable.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Because this year at least one music company will be releasing CDs that positively invite copying - within limits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So a textualist could, in principle and within limits, allow both a politically liberal and a politically conservative reading of the Constitution's text.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is about allowing people their personal choice, within limits.’
      • ‘This is the game that teachers train their students to play: think without limits, practice within limits.’
      comparatively, in comparison, by comparison, proportionately
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  • without limit

    • With no restriction.

      • ‘They can divide without limit, which is what makes them so deadly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That belief is one reason why he has so often and conspicuously argued to have boatloads of illegal aliens accepted without limit.’
      • ‘She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of United States.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As a poet, his technical resources seem to have been 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.’’
      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.