One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A luminous cloud or a halo surrounding a supernatural being or a saint.
- ‘In the third and fourth centuries, the halo or nimbus (Latin: ‘cloud’ or ‘mist’) was used only for Christ and the lamb.’
- ‘Kira was laying, her head laying delicately on a rock, her hair splayed out around her head like a nimbus.’
- ‘This boy monk had a halo around him, a nimbus of purity, divinity, and godliness.’
- ‘That we especially attend to, and emphasize, borders and boundaries is evidenced powerfully in our use of halos, the nimbus and the aura in the arts.’
- ‘Sun worship was marked by the use of the halo, or nimbus, which originated with the pagan Greeks and Romans to represent their sun god, Helios.’
- 1.1 A light, color, etc., that surrounds someone or something.
- ‘From the walls of the room jagged flashes of blue-white lightning clawed out at the creature, outlining it in a momentary nimbus of sparks and power which faded in the blink of an eye.’
- ‘Turning away, the afterimage on my retina has added nimbi to all of them.’
- ‘A rosy nimbus surrounded him and the lifeless body, which slowly sat up.’
- ‘Heat flashed along her bonds and they melted instantly, mere puddles of once-hard iron, and she pulled herself free, surrounded in a fiery nimbus.’
- ‘The whole thing was surrounded by a golden nimbus.’
- ‘Nobody noticed the dark man hovering in the sky, away from the setting sun or the moon, as he watched the spectacle, before he disappeared in a nimbus of smoke.’
- ‘Suddenly, the faint silver nimbus around her flared.’
- ‘The polenta looked like a very small moon surrounded by a large nimbus of vapour.’
- ‘He grew terribly bright, as if ghostly images of himself had focused on him, and a crackling nimbus of pure force that glowed a deep gold-crimson surrounded him.’
- ‘One of the last things that registered on Dave's perception as his vision faded was a flickering black nimbus of energy limning the creature's form.’
- ‘Some distance ahead, the hall bent to the left, and from those hidden precincts glowed a nimbus of yellowish luminescence.’
- ‘He was sitting with his back to the window, sunlight behind his shoulder haloing his fur in a nimbus of white light, being shattered into a hundred pieces by the facets of the cut crystal goblet in his hand.’
- ‘When the power within her reached its peak, the red nimbus around her expanded to fill the entire corridor.’
- ‘The blue nimbus soon engulfed them and vanished from view.’
- ‘Outside it was still dark, but there was a hint of pink on the eastern horizon, a small nimbus of light that proclaimed the coming of the sun.’
- ‘Ronnie took another lazy drag on her cigarette, blowing the stale grey smoke in a small cloud up towards the ceiling, where it gathered in a dirty nimbus around the sickly yellow light bulb.’
- ‘As the waiting room door closed behind him, another door opened in front of him, with a familiar electronic hum and a nimbus of blue-white light.’
- ‘He looked at me, then twitched his ears in rueful laughter and moved back a couple of steps until all I could see of him was his silhouette against the grey nimbus surrounding the moon.’
- ‘Except sometimes, if you saw him in the right light, he had this nimbus.’
- ‘Mara stood there, face incandescent with rage, eyes blazing with purple wrath and entire body outlined in a shimmering nimbus of terrible light.’
2A large gray rain cloud.as modifier ‘nimbus clouds’
- ‘A dull robin's egg-blue canvas, bearing ever-so-faint gray diagonal streaks that recall dark nimbus clouds, functions mainly as a visual texture.’
- ‘By the dense nimbus above them, she could tell that a no ordinary rain was about to come.’
- ‘Above the mighty fortress of earth, dark cumulous nimbus clouds clash violently against each other invoking the worst of all storms and hindering all whom dare to cross by air.’
- ‘A broken skein of clouds, outracing the birds underneath, abruptly halts, spins and dissolves into a moist nimbus.’
- ‘The Serengeti: under the lowering anvil nimbus, electric storms stutter on the horizon.’
- ‘Surely an overreaction, there was just the merest nimbus puff floating benevolently by as we left home - it looked a great Sunday for football.’
- ‘Her face, all her skin, was the color of the nimbus clouds on a calm summer afternoon.’
- ‘As though a spell was spoken, a strong, chilling wind passed over the two and a large nimbus cloud blocked the Sun out.’
Early 17th century: from Latin, literally ‘cloud, aureole’.
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