American English

Definition of limit noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1limit (to something) a point at which something stops being possible or existing There is a limit to the amount of pain we can bear. The team performed to the limit of its capabilities. She knew the limits of her power. to push/stretch/test someone or something to the limit His arrogance knew (= had)no limits.
  2. 2limit (on something) the greatest or smallest amount of something that is allowed synonym restriction a time/speed/age limit The agency has set strict limits on levels of pollution. They were traveling at a speed that was double the legal limit. You can't drive—you're over the limit (= you have drunk more alcohol than is legal when driving). to keep government spending within acceptable limits
  3. 3the furthest edge of an area or a place We were reaching the limits of civilization. the city limits (= the imaginary line which officially divides the city from the area outside) see also off-limits
  4. Thesauruslimitrestriction control constraint restraint limitationThese are all words for something that limits what you can do or what can happen.limit the greatest or smallest amount of something that is allowed:The government has set strict limits on spending. the speed limitrestriction (somewhat formal) a rule or law that limits what you can do:There are no restrictions on the amount of money you can withdraw.control (often in compounds) the act of limiting or managing something; a method of doing this:crowd controlconstraint (somewhat formal) a fact or decision that limits what you can do:The agency is operating under severe budget constraints.restraint (somewhat formal) a decision, a rule, an idea, etc. that limits what you can do; the act of limiting something because it is necessary or sensible to do so:The new law has imposed restraints on exports to Russia.limitation the act or process of limiting something; a rule, fact, or condition that limits something:They would resist any limitation of their powers.restriction, constraint, restraint, or limitation?These are all things that limit what you can do. A restriction is a rule or law that is made by someone in authority. A constraint is something that exists rather than something that is made, although it may exist as a result of someone's decision. A restraint is also something that exists: it can exist outside yourself, as the result of someone else's decision; but it can also exist inside you, as a fear of what other people may think or as your own feeling about what is acceptable:moral/social/cultural restraints. A limitation is more general and can be a rule that someone makes or a fact or condition that exists.Patterns limits/restrictions/controls/constraints/restraints/limitations on something limits/limitations to something severe limits/restrictions/controls/constraints/restraints/limitations tight limits/restrictions/controls/constraints to impose/remove limits/restrictions/controls/constraints/restraints/limitations to ease/lift restrictions/controls/constraints/restraintsIdioms
    be the limit (old-fashioned) (informal)
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    to be extremely annoying
    the sky's the limit (informal)
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    there is no limit to what someone can achieve, earn, do, etc. With a talent like his, the sky's the limit.
    within limits
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    to some extent; with some restrictions I'm willing to help, within limits.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: limit