Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
Restricted; beyond the limits of what's acceptable or permissible. There was an old, run-down barn behind our house that was always off limits when we were kids—though we snuck into it more times than I can remember! The subject of the divorce is still off limits with Carol. She just doesn't want to discuss it with anyone.
the sky's the limit
Anything is possible. The sky's the limit for our talented graduates!
be the (absolute) limit
To be a source of intense aggravation. Oh, I can't listen to that fool any longer—his idiotic questions are the limit!
the (absolute) limit
A source of intense aggravation or annoyance. Oh, I can't listen to that fool any longer—his idiotic questions are the limit! These forms the HR department makes us fill out are the absolute limit, I'm telling you!
To or within an acceptable, reasonable, or appropriate degree or limit. We encourage our employees to socialize with clients, but within limits. I don't mind if you have a party next door, but please try to keep the noise within bounds.
1. To ensure something remains restricted to some specific thing, such as a topic or subject. A noun or pronoun is used between "limit" and "to." Please limit your questions to the international summit—no other topics will be discussed by the president today. I understand the direction you're trying to take, but I really think you should limit your dissertation to the Middle Ages.
2. To restrict or constrain something to a set or limited amount or number of something. A noun or pronoun is used between "limit" and "to." Try to limit your performance to two minutes, or else we won't be able to fit everyone in the show. I have to limit our expenditures to $500 for the whole time we're in Prague.
3. To restrict or constrain someone or oneself to a set or limited amount or number of something. A noun or pronoun is used between "limit" and "to." I'm starting off by limiting myself to 10 cigarettes a day, and then I'll start lowering that as I go along. The bank has limited us to $800 daily withdrawals until our credit rating improves.
4. To force someone or oneself to remain within a certain limited area. A noun or pronoun is used between "limit" and "to." Often used in passive constructions. Because of zoning regulations, planners were limited to an area no less than 3,000 feet away from any public roads to build the processing plant. The school limited us to a tiny area on the outskirts of the football field to hold our practices.
5. To restrict someone or oneself to focus on a specific topic, subject, idea, etc. A noun or pronoun is used between "limit" and "to." Often used in passive constructions. I just don't think you should limit yourself to math—why not try studying some other subjects? The boss limited us to discussing our previous product during the conference, keeping our current project under wraps.
go the limit
To do something as thoroughly as possible or without restraint. We only planned to order appetizers, but we ended up going the limit. You only live once. Might as well go the limit and get the works.
go to the limit
To do as much as is possible. We couldn't do the full tour, so we just went to the limit. No more food for me, please—I've gone to the limit.
go the limit
Fig. to do as much as possible; to get as much as possible. Let's plan to do everything we can. Let's go the limit. We'll go the limit. To heck with the cost.
go to the limit
to do as much as is possible to do. Okay, we can't afford it, but we'll go to the limit. How far shall I go? Shall I go to the limit?
go whole hog
to do everything possible; to be extravagant. Let's go whole hog. Order steak and lobster. Show some restraint. Don't go whole hog all the time.
limit someone to something
1. to restrict someone to a certain amount or number of something. I will have to limit you to two helpings of mashed potatoes. I limit myself to cola drinks only.
2. to restrict someone to a certain area. Please try to limit your children to your own yard. They limited themselves to the north side of town.
limit something to something
to restrict something to a limited set, a certain amount, or a specific number of something. Please limit your comments to five minutes. Can you limit your remarks to the subject at hand?
1. Lit. outside the boundaries of the playing area. (*Typically: be ~; get ~; go ~.) The ball went out-of-bounds just at the end of the game. The whistle blew when Juan went out-of-bounds.
2. and *off-limits Fig. forbidden. (*Typically: be ~.) This area is off-limits. You can't go in there. Don't go there. It's out-of-bounds. That kind of behavior is off-limits. Stop it!
The sky's the limit.
Inf. there is no upper limit. I can afford it. The sky's the limit. You can do anything you set your mind to, Billy. The sky's the limit.
within limitsand within bounds
up to a certain point; with certain restrictions. You're free to do what you want—within limits, of course. You must try to keep behavior at the party within bounds.
go whole hog
Also, go the limit. Do something completely or thoroughly; proceed as far as possible. For example, Instead of just painting the room, why not go whole hog and redecorate it completely? or Let's go the limit and dig up the entire garden. Although the precise source of whole hog is disputed, this colloquialism was first recorded in 1828 (in Japhet by Frederick Marryat) as go the whole hog. Today the article is usually omitted. Go the limit, also a colloquialism, dates from the mid-1900s. Also see all out.
sky's the limit, the
There is no limit (to ambition, aspirations, expense, or the like). For example, Order anything you like on the menu-the sky's the limit tonight, or He's so brilliant he can do anything-the sky's the limit. This metaphoric idiom was first recorded in 1920.
The most extreme; someone or something that irritates, delights, or surprises to the ultimate degree. For example, Hiring and firing someone the same day-that's the limit in employee relations! or That excuse of yours for missing the wedding, that's the limit, or He's done wonders before but this last one is the limit. This idiom uses limit as "the last possible point or boundary." [Colloquial; c. 1900]
1. If an area is off limits, you are not allowed to go there. The area was kept off limits to foreign journalists until early this year. The ideal is to have one room that's off limits for the kids.
2. If something is off limits, you are not allowed to have it or do it. Of course, smoking was off limits everywhere. Many of the biggest trees in those forests would soon be off limits to the timber industry.
the sky's the limit
COMMON You say the sky's the limit to mean that someone or something could be extremely successful. `How much are you hoping to make for this charity of yours?' — `Well loads hopefully. I mean the sky's the limit.' Asked how far the young tennis player could go, McEnroe said simply: `The sky's the limit.'
be the limitbe intolerably troublesome or irritating. informal
the sky is the limitthere is practically no limit.
1991 Nation He proudly proclaims that today in Russia the sky is the limit to what a person can earn.
be the (absolute) ˈlimit(old-fashioned, spoken) be a very annoying person or thing: You’re the limit, Michael. I’ve been waiting for you for over two hours. Where on earth have you been? ♢ The trains on this line are the absolute limit. They are never on time.
1 to a certain extent; not completely: ‘Do you support what he says?’ ‘Yes, within limits!’
2 as long as it is reasonable; to a reasonable degree: I will do anything I can to help you, within limits, of course.
the sky’s the ˈlimit(spoken, informal) there is no limit or end to something, especially somebody’s success or progress: For an ambitious young woman in this business, the sky’s the limit.
go the limit
in. to do as much as possible; to get as much as possible. We’ll go the limit. To heck with the cost.
the sky’s the limit
phr. there is no upper limit. You can do anything you set your mind to, Billy. The sky’s the limit.