"circumscribed within definite limits," c. 1600, past-participle adjective from limit (v.). The word was used earlier in a now-obsolete sense "appointed, fixed" (1550s). Limited edition is from 1869; limited monarchy from 1640s; limited war is from 1947. As a noun in railroading, 1878, short for limited express train (1875). In British company names, Limited (abbrev. Ltd.), 1855, is short for limited liability company, one in which the liability of partners is limited, usually to the amount of their capital investment.
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