Meaning of LIMIT in English



1. the largest amount that is allowed or possible

2. the smallest amount that is allowed or possible

3. when there are limits on what you can do

4. to put a limit on something

5. when there is a limit on the size or amount of something

6. when there is no limit


when there is not enough of something : ↑ ENOUGH/NOT ENOUGH

see also





1. the largest amount that is allowed or possible

▷ limit /ˈlɪmɪt, ˈlɪmət/ [countable noun usually singular]

the highest number, speed, temperature etc that is allowed by a law or rule :

▪ He borrowed money up to the limit that the bank allowed.

limit on

▪ There’s no limit on the amount of money that may be brought into the US.

time/age/speed limit

▪ The Interstate speed limit is 65 m.p.h.

over/above the limit

▪ Pollution levels in the water were found to be over the official limit.

set a limit

decide what a limit will be

▪ Some families set limits on how much they spend on each other’s Christmas present.

▷ maximum /ˈmæksɪməm, ˈmæksəməm/ [adjective only before noun]

the maximum number or amount is the largest number or amount that is possible, normal, or allowed :

▪ After leaving Calais, the train soon reaches its maximum speed of 300 kph.

▪ Forty is the maximum number of passengers this bus is allowed to carry.

▪ Ditikins faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

maximum [singular noun]

the maximum

▪ You don’t have to wait long for a new passport - 3 weeks is about the maximum.

a maximum of £10/50%/30 degrees etc

▪ Individuals may donate a maximum of $1000 to the campaign.

▷ the most /ðə ˈməʊst/ [quantifier]

the largest amount or number of something :

the most (that)

▪ He likes to gamble, but the most he ever won was $1000.

▪ Two cakes is the most that I can bake in my oven at one time.

at most/at the most

as the largest amount possible or allowed

▪ A new tyre would cost £70 at the very most.

▷ upper limit /ˌʌpəʳ ˈlɪmə̇t/ [countable noun usually singular]

the largest amount of something that is allowed within a range :

▪ The explosion had a force that was close to the upper limit allowed by nuclear arms treaties.

upper limit on

▪ The Pentagon did not set an upper limit on troop deployments during the war.

▷ ceiling /ˈsiːlɪŋ/ [singular noun]

the largest number or amount of something that is officially allowed - use this especially in business :

▪ Import quotas may rise from the present ceiling of 18.5 million to 20 million.

ceiling on

▪ There is a ceiling on the amount of foreign investment allowed in any company in the country.

debt ceiling

the largest amount that a country is allowed to owe

▪ Congress was once again considering raising the federal debt ceiling.

▷ cut-off point /ˈkʌt ɒf ˌpɔɪnt/ [countable noun usually singular]

the largest amount or number that is allowed before something stops happening, has an effect etc :

▪ The machine’s cut-off point is 1000 volts, which is the safety maximum.

▪ Science has pushed back the cut-off point at which a woman can no longer bear children.

2. the smallest amount that is allowed or possible

▷ the least /ðə ˈliːst/ [quantifier]

the smallest amount or number of something :

the least (that)

▪ £20,000 is the least we could accept for a car of this type.

▪ The least anyone around here works is about 50 hours per week.

▷ minimum /ˈmɪnɪməm, ˈmɪnəməm/ [adjective]

the minimum number or amount is the smallest number or amount that is possible or allowed :

▪ What is the minimum wage these days?

▪ The minimum age to buy cigarettes is 18.

minimum [singular noun]

the minimum

▪ He usually just pays the minimum each month on his credit cards.

a minimum of £10/50%/30 degrees etc

▪ You have to stay for a minimum of 7 days.

absolute/bare minimum

the very least number or amount

▪ The hospital has reduced staffing to an absolute minimum.

keep something to a minimum

▪ Let’s try to keep irrelevant comments to a minimum.

▷ lower limit /ˌləʊəʳ ˈlɪmə̇t/ [countable noun usually singular]

the least amount of something that is allowed within a range :

▪ Age 3 is really the lower limit for teaching children to swim.

lower limit of

▪ Deposits are subject to a lower limit of $400.

▷ threshold /ˈθreʃhəʊld, -ʃəʊld/ [countable noun]

a number or level at which something begins to happen or to have an effect, especially the lowest number or level :

▪ If the temperature falls below a particular threshold, a warning light comes on.

▪ Under the proposal, those whose earnings were less than a $36,000 threshold would not have to pay taxes.

3. when there are limits on what you can do

▷ limits /ˈlɪmɪts, ˈlɪməts/ [plural noun]

the rules or facts that control someone’s freedom or their ability to do what they want :

limits to

▪ There are practical limits to the number of cases we can deal with each day.

limits of

▪ He’s well aware of the limits of his knowledge.

within limits

▪ We want our employees to enjoy themselves, within certain limits.

▷ limitations /ˌlɪmɪˈteɪʃ ə nz, ˌlɪməˈteɪʃ ə nz/ [plural noun]

limits on what someone or something is able to do :

limitations of

▪ The limitations of the computer system make some operations very difficult.

limitations on

▪ The president was unwilling to accept limitations on his power.

physical limitations

▪ Hikers should know their physical limitations and not take unnecessary risks.

▷ restrictions /rɪˈstrɪkʃ ə nz/ [plural noun]

rules or laws that strictly control what you are allowed to do :

▪ There are certain travel restrictions in effect in certain areas along the border.

restrictions on

▪ Unions are pressing for restrictions on steel imports from Japan.

▪ Because of restrictions on reporting, newspapers were not allowed to cover the story.

impose restrictions

officially order that something must be limited

▪ New restrictions have been imposed on immigration.

▷ constraints /kənˈstreɪnts/ [plural noun]

facts or conditions that limit what you can do, for example not having enough time, money etc :

▪ Because of time constraints two acts had to be cut from the show.

constraints of

▪ The constraints of prison life are sometimes too much for people to bear.

▷ be limited /biː ˈlɪmə̇tə̇d/ [verb phrase]

to not be able to do everything that you want because things are not available, there are rules or laws about it etc :

▪ Our choice of shops is somewhat limited because we don’t have a car.

be limited to

▪ We’re limited to two weeks of vacation a year, so a three-week safari isn’t possible.

be limited by

▪ Many Hong Kong performers are limited by their lack of English skills in making the transition to Hollywood.

▷ be restricted /biː rɪˈstrɪktə̇d/ [verb phrase]

if something is restricted to a particular amount, time, group etc, there are rules or other conditions limiting it to that amount, time, group etc :

▪ Access to the President is restricted.

be restricted to

▪ In those days, visiting in the hospital was restricted to specific weekend hours only.

be restricted by

▪ Because Forbes was using his own money, he was not restricted by federal limits on campaign spending.

▷ be constrained /biː kənˈstreɪnd/ [verb phrase]

to be unable to do what you want to do because of facts or conditions, for example, because you do not have enough time or money :

▪ Sharon’s options were severely constrained because of the foolish choices she made as a teenager.

be constrained by

▪ Research is often constrained by lack of sufficient data.

▷ scope /skəʊp/ [uncountable noun]

the range of things that a particular activity is allowed to include or have an effect on :

scope of

▪ A clear statement of the goal and scope of a research project is a useful reference point.

within the scope

▪ It was determined that the Commissioner had been acting within the scope of his official duties.

beyond/outside the scope

▪ I’m afraid the matter falls outside the scope of this enquiry.

in scope

▪ Regulations are important in markets that are increasingly international in scope.

of enormous/historic/wide etc scope

▪ The ruling party has granted concessions of considerable scope.

▷ confines /ˈkɒnfaɪnzǁˈkɑːn-/ [plural noun]

the limits on a situation, organization, activity etc that control what people are allowed to do :

confines of

▪ She felt trapped by the narrow confines of the convent.

within the confines

▪ We must operate within the confines of the law.

beyond/outside the confines

▪ Hypothetical thinking goes beyond the confines of everyday experience.

▷ parameters /pəˈræmɪtəʳz, pəˈræmətəʳz/ [plural noun]

a set of limits within which an activity can be done - use this in business, education, or technical contexts :

▪ In the private sector there are clear parameters which surround labour relations.

within/outside the parameters of something

▪ It is only within the parameters of a clear set of goals that a national science program can be successful.

4. to put a limit on something

▷ limit /ˈlɪmɪt, ˈlɪmət/ [transitive verb]

to stop a number or amount from becoming too large, or stop someone from doing whatever they want :

▪ The new law limits the number of foreign cars that can be imported.

▪ Men hold most of the top jobs, and this limits women’s opportunities for promotion.

limit somebody/something to something

▪ Let’s limit our discussion to the facts in the report.

limit yourself to something

▪ As you look for material to write about, don’t limit yourself to other people’s ideas.

▷ restrict /rɪˈstrɪkt/ [transitive verb]

to strictly control and limit the size, amount, or range of something :

▪ The law would restrict the sale of handguns.

restrict somebody/something to something

▪ This year’s AIDS conference is restricted in size to fewer than 3,000 participants.

restrict yourself to something

▪ McGregor has said he will voluntarily restrict himself to $2.2 million in campaign spending.

▷ set/impose/put a limit /ˌset, ɪmˌpəʊz, ˌpʊt ə ˈlɪmə̇t/ [verb phrase]

to control the size or amount of something, or to control an activity, by deciding what the limits of it will be :

set/impose/put a limit on

▪ Governments should put strict limits on tobacco advertising.

▪ The courts have imposed limits on school officials’ power to dismiss teachers.

set/impose a limit of something

▪ The president set a time limit of 6 months for the negotiations to produce an agreement.

set/impose a limit

▪ Parents need to know when to set limits for their children’s behavior.

▷ keep to/keep within /ˈkiːp tuː, ˈkiːp wɪðɪn/ [transitive phrasal verb]

if you keep to or keep within the limits of something, you make yourself stay within those limits :

▪ We need to keep to the schedule if we’re going to finish on time.

▪ Keep within the speed limit and you should have no problems.

▷ confine /kənˈfaɪn/ [transitive verb]

to keep something within the limits of a particular activity or subject, especially when it is difficult for you to do this :

confine somebody/something to something

▪ Rebel troops have confined their attacks mainly to the southern part of the country.

confine yourself to something

▪ The report confines itself to known and verifiable facts.

▷ fix /fɪks/ [transitive verb]

to decide on the limit of something, especially something that often changes, and make it stay the same for a long time :

▪ Interest rates for savings accounts have been fixed at 7% for the rest of the year.

▪ The project has finally been approved and the budget has been fixed.

5. when there is a limit on the size or amount of something

▷ limited /ˈlɪmɪtəd, ˈlɪmətəd/ [adjective]

if something is limited, only a fixed amount is allowed or available :

▪ We only have a limited amount of time in which to finish the work.

▪ Call now - this offer is good for a limited time only.

limited to

▪ The class is limited to 20 students.

▷ there are limits/there is a limit /ˌðeər ɑːʳ ˈlɪmə̇ts, ˌðeər ɪz ə ˈlɪmə̇t/

if there are limits or there is a limit to something, only a particular amount or number is possible or allowed, and not any more than that :

▪ Of course, we’d like to have as many children as possible attend, but there are limits.

there are limits/there is a limit on

▪ According to the director, there’s a limit on the number of computers we can buy.

there are limits/there is a limit to

▪ There are limits to what the human body can tolerate.

▷ fixed /fɪkst/ [adjective]

fixed number/amount/price etc

one which has already been decided and which cannot be made higher or lower :

▪ Our health insurance pays a fixed amount for each type of treatment, regardless of what it actually costs.

▪ fixed interest rates

▪ Fixed costs should be separated from variable costs when working out the annual accounts.

▷ finite /ˈfaɪnaɪt/ [adjective]

something that is finite has a limit and an end - use this especially in scientific contexts :

▪ The speed at which light travels is finite.

▪ The earth has a finite number of resources which we must protect.

6. when there is no limit

▷ unlimited /ʌnˈlɪmɪtɪd, ʌnˈlɪmətɪd/ [adjective]

something that is unlimited has no fixed limit :

▪ We pay $20 a month for unlimited Internet access.

▪ The ticket is good for unlimited travel on the city’s transportation system for 3 days.

▪ At the time of the purchase, the extent of Alaska and its resources must have seemed unlimited.

▷ there is no limit /ðeər ɪz ˌnəʊ ˈlɪmə̇t/

use this to say that someone can have or do as much of something as they want :

there is no limit to/on

▪ If we work together, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

▪ There’s no limit to the number of times you can register to win.

▷ boundless /ˈbaʊndləs/ [adjective]

having no limit - used especially in literature :

▪ Taking care of small children is a job that requires boundless energy.

▪ They felt lost and alone on the vast, boundless sea.

▷ infinite /ˈɪnfɪnət, ˈɪnfənət/ [adjective]

something that is infinite has no limit and no end, or does not have one that you can easily see - used especially in scientific contexts :

▪ The variations of color that a human eye can see are infinite.

▪ infinite space

▪ A natural language contains an infinite number of grammatical sentences.

▷ the sky’s the limit /ðə ˌskaɪz ðə ˈlɪmə̇t/

if you say the sky’s the limit, you mean that there is no upper limit on something such as the amount of money you can spend or on the success that you can have :

▪ Pick out whatever you want - the sky’s the limit.

▪ We try to make our engineers feel that the sky’s the limit when it comes to what they can design.

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