What the heck does 'limn' mean?

September 07, 2010

When I read the headline for the lead article in today's Baltimore Sun, I had to keep looking at it again and again. The headline read "Opposing votes limn difference in race" (Sept. 7). I tried substituting various letters in the word "limn" to see if I could come up with a word that made sense to me. I could not. When I saw that the word was repeated in the headline on page 13, I finally went to the computer and did a spell check. It checked out but I then had to run it through two thesauri to come up with definitions of this word, which would more commonly be used in a production of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

I consider myself an educated person. I graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland, College Park some years ago with a degree in international relations/economics. I have never heard of the word "limn" and I have been a voracious reader all of my life. To put a word like "limn" in the headline for the lead article on the front page of this newspaper seems to me to be unbelievably arrogant and patronizing. Could the headline writer not have fashioned a head around the word "illuminate," "delineate" or "depict"? Perhaps then more readers would not only understand what the article is about but actually might want to read it.

Carol N. Shaw, Fork

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