Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 691 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LIMB. (I) (In O. Eng. Lim, cognate with the O. Nor. and Icel. limr, Swed. and Dan. Lem; probably the word is to be referred to a root li- seen in an obsolete English word " lith," a limb, and in the Ger. Glied), originally any portion or member of the body, but now restricted in meaning to the external members of the body of an animal apart from the head and trunk, the legs and arms, or, in a bird, the wings. It is sometimes used of the lower limbs only, and is synonymous with " leg." The word is also used of the main branches of a tree, of the projecting spurs of a range of mountains, of the arms of a cross, &c. As a translation of the Lat. membrum, and with special reference to the church as the " body of Christ," " limb " was frequently used by ecclesiastical writers of the 16th and 17th centuries of a person as being a component part of the church; cf. such expressions " limb of Satan," "limb of the law," &c. From the use of membrum in medieval Latin for an estate dependent on another, the name " limb" is given to an outlying portion of another, or to the surbordinate members of the Cinque Ports, attached to one of the principal towns; Pevensey was thus a "limb " of Hastings. (2) An edge or border, frequently used in scientific language for the boundary of a surface. It is thus used of the edge of the disk of the sun or moon, of the expanded part of a petal or sepal in botany, &c. This word is a shortened form of " limbo " or " limbus," Lat. for an edge, for the theological use of which see LIMB US.
End of Article: LIMB

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