Limbo meaning and usage

Limbo meaning and usage

If you enjoy learning and memorizing new words, then here is a new word of the day for you! Today, we will talk about the word “limbo”. What does it mean? How can we use it, and does it have any alternative meanings apart from the primary one? Let’s checkout what limbo means!

Boy with a book

Limbo: origin and etymology of the word

Limbo is the word that derived from the Middle Ages and is still used – maybe not as often, but it still has a meaning in modern English. It comes from Medieval Latin, where it appeared in common use around 1300-1350s and was usually used with the preposition in. The phrase meant “on hell’s border” or “on the edge” at first. It is pronounced as lim-boh, and the plural form of it is limbos.

Limbo definition

Limbo means either transitional or neglected state of things, shortly state of uncertainty. It can also be defined as a place of confinement or imprisonment.

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In limbo meaning

In everyday life, the phrase “in limbo” is an idiom which means in a state of neglect, oblivion, in an indefinite state, out of date or on hold. Some project, which is in a state of neglect, can be described as a project in limbo.

The historical background of this idiom was the region of the afterlife, which is on the border of hell, referred to as limbo. Some of the Christian religious beliefs see limbo as a place for souls that go neither to heaven nor hell.

For example, babies that have not been baptized are considered to have their souls in limbo, according to some beliefs. Pagans who were around before the arrival of Christianity are also considered to be in limbo.

Limbo place

Limbo land meaning

Limbo land means purgatory, which is a place between heaven and hell in some religions. People often say limbo land when they refer to a forgotten land.

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Legal limbo meaning

If you have been wondering what legal limbo means, this is the state which happens when the various laws or court rulings can leave a person without the recourse. For instance, you can say some company is in some sort of legal limbo when they earn enough to get governmental public assistance, but not enough to pay for some basic needs. It also can be used when a person or a company turns to legal parties in order to fix the problem, but these parties are pointing blame at each other instead of helping out, and the problem remains still.

Limbo can also be used as an informal business term. It can be used when the outcome of a certain business deal is not certain. For instance, two companies which agreed to merge, but decisions could not be made because of some disagreements, so it is safe to say that their merger is in limbo.

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Limbo meaning in slang

Young people often use the phrase “in limbo” when they refer to relationship status. For example, when a person is going on regular dates with someone, but they have not officially moved things forward and become a couple, they can be in a relationship limbo – not single, but not taken.

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Girl with a book

Limbo state of mind meaning

You can say that the person is in a limbo state of mind. In some video games, the characters can experience a limbo state, when they have a dream and feel like they are fully in it, unable to distinguish the dream from reality. Eventually, they become lost in their dream and forget the reality. When you describe someone as being in a limbo state of mind, it usually means that this person is feeling depressed and unable to do anything productive.

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Meaning of limbo rock

The phrase “limbo rock” is actually a name of a song by the American singer Chubby Checker. This song was originally written about limbo dancing, which is a kind of dancing that originates from Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidadian people hold contests in limbo dancing. The special feature of these contests is that a horizontal bar is placed on top of two vertical bars, and the contestants have to go under this horizontal bar with their backs facing the floor. If someone knocks the bar off and falls, they are eliminated. The song “Limbo Rock” had a mild success and even received a sequel “Let’s Limbo Some More”.

Limbo dancing

Meaning of limbo song/poem

“Limbo Rock” is not the only song with this word. The artist Daddy Yankee has a song called “Limbo”, which describes all the fun and beauty of limbo dancing. Also, the Barbadian poet Edward Kamau Brathwaite wrote a poem about limbo dance which is also called “Limbo”. In this poem, he compares the actual dance to the transportation of the slaves from Africa to America and West Indies.

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Meaning of limbo life

When someone describes their life as “living in limbo”, this means that they live in frustration, depression, and disappointment. The mental state of limbo means that you are stuck in a situation which brings you the feeling of unfulfillment, and it would be the best to change something about your life because limbo life means that you put your whole life on hold.

Limbo life

Congratulations, you have learned about multiple meanings and contexts of the word limbo! Now you can use it wherever you want and show your new knowledge. We are always happy to introduce you to new words.

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