Words related to limb
region supposed to exist on the border of Hell, reserved for pre-Christian saints (Limbus patrum) and unbaptized infants (Limbus infantum);" c. 1300, from Latin limbo, ablative singular of limbus "edge, border" (see limb (n.2)). In frequent use in Latin phrases such as in limbo (patrum), which is entirely Latin, but the in was taken as English and hence the Latin ablative became the English noun. Figurative sense of "condition of neglect or oblivion, place of confinement" is from 1640s.
Middle English bough, from Old English bog "shoulder, arm," extended in Old English to "twig, branch of a tree" (compare limb (n.1)), from Proto-Germanic *bogaz (source also of Old Norse bogr "shoulder," Old High German buog "upper part of the arm or leg," German Bug "shoulder, hock, joint"), from PIE root *bhagu- "arm" (source also of Sanskrit bahus "arm," Armenian bazuk, Greek pakhys "forearm"). The "limb of a tree" sense is peculiar to English.
"pliant, flexible," 1560s, of uncertain origin, possibly from limb (n.1) on notion of supple boughs of a tree [Barnhart], or from limp (adj.) "flaccid" [Skeat], or somehow from Middle English lymer "shaft of a cart" (see limber (n.)), but the late appearance of the -b- in that word argues against it. Related: Limberness. Dryden used limber-ham (see ham (n.1) in the "joint" sense) as a name for a character "perswaded by what is last said to him, and changing next word."
"detachable forepart of a field-gun carriage," 1620s, alteration of Middle English lymer (early 15c.), earlier lymon (c. 1400), probably from Old French limon "shaft," a word perhaps of Celtic origin, or possibly from Germanic and related to limb (n.1). Compare related Spanish limon "shaft," leman "helmsman."
The nautical limber "hole cut in floor timbers to allow water to drain" (1620s), however, appears to be unrelated; perhaps from French lumière "hole, perforation," literally "light."
"agile, light and quick in motion, light-footed," c. 1300, nemel, from Old English næmel "quick to grasp, quick at taking" (attested but once), related to niman "to take," from Proto-Germanic *nemanan (source also of Old Saxon, Old Dutch, Gothic niman, Old Norse nema, Old Frisian nima, German nehmen "to take"), perhaps from PIE root *nem- "assign, allot; take."
With unetymological -b- attested from c. 1500 (compare limb (n.1)). Nimble-fingered is from 1620s; nimble-footed from 1590s; nimble-witted from 1610s. Related: Nimbleness. In 17c., English had nimblechaps "talkative fellow."