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adjective il·lu·mi·nate \i-ˈlü-mə-nət\

Definition of illuminate

  1. 1 archaic :  brightened with light

  2. 2 archaic :  intellectually or spiritually enlightened

15th Century

First Known Use of illuminate

15th century

Rhymes with illuminate



verb, il·lu·mi·nate \-ˌnāt\

Simple Definition of illuminate

  • : to supply (something) with light : to shine light on (something)

  • : to make (something) clear and easier to understand

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of illuminate


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to enlighten spiritually or intellectually b (1) :  to supply or brighten with light (2) :  to make luminous or shining c archaic :  to set alight d :  to subject to radiation

  3. 2 a :  to make clear :  elucidate b :  to bring to the fore :  highlight <a crisis can illuminate how interdependent we all are>

  4. 3 :  to make illustrious or resplendent

  5. 4 :  to decorate (as a manuscript) with gold or silver or brilliant colors or with often elaborate designs or miniature pictures

illuminatingly play \-ˌnā-tiŋ-lē\ adverb
illuminator play \-ˌnā-tər\ noun

Examples of illuminate in a sentence

  1. the part of the moon illuminated by the sun

  2. A university study has illuminated the problem.

Origin of illuminate

Middle English, from Latin illuminatus, past participle of illuminare, from in- + luminare to light up, from lumin-, lumen light — more at luminary

First Known Use: 15th century

Rhymes with illuminate

abbreviate, abominate, accelerate, accentuate, accommodate, acculturate, accumulate, adjudicate, adulterate, affiliate, agglomerate, alienate, alleviate, alliterate, amalgamate, ameliorate, amyl nitrate, annihilate, annunciate, anticipate, apostolate, appreciate, appropriate, approximate, arpeggiate, articulate, asphyxiate, assassinate, asseverate, assimilate, associate, at any rate, attenuate, authenticate, barbiturate, bicarbonate, calumniate, capacitate, capitulate, catholicate, certificate, coagulate, coelenterate, collaborate, commemorate, commiserate, communicate, compassionate, concatenate, conciliate, confabulate, confederate, conglomerate, congratulate, consolidate, contaminate, cooperate, coordinate, corroborate, deactivate, debilitate, decapitate, decelerate, decerebrate, deconcentrate, deconsecrate, decorticate, decrepitate, de-escalate, defibrinate, defoliate, degenerate, deliberate, delineate, demodulate, denominate, depopulate, depreciate, deracinate, deregulate, desegregate, desiderate, detoxicate, devaluate, diaconate, dilapidate, discriminate, disintegrate, disseminate, dissimulate, dissociate, domesticate, effectuate, ejaculate, elaborate, electroplate, eliminate, elucidate, emaciate, emancipate, emasculate, encapsulate, enumerate, enunciate, episcopate, equivocate, eradicate, etiolate, evacuate, evaluate, evaporate, eventuate, eviscerate, exacerbate, exaggerate, exasperate, excited state, excogitate, excoriate, exfoliate, exhilarate, exonerate, expatiate, expatriate, expectorate, expostulate, expropriate, extenuate, exterminate, extrapolate, facilitate, felicitate, fish or cut bait, garrison state, gesticulate, habilitate, habituate, hallucinate, humiliate, hydrogenate, hypothecate, impersonate, inactivate, inaugurate, incarcerate, incinerate, incorporate, incriminate, indoctrinate, inebriate, infatuate, infuriate, ingratiate, ingurgitate, initiate, inoculate, inseminate, insinuate, instantiate, intercalate, interpolate, interrelate, interrogate, intimidate, intoxicate, invalidate, investigate, invigorate, irradiate, Italianate, Korea Strait, lanceolate, legitimate, luxuriate, mandarinate, manipulate, matriarchate, matriculate, Merthiolate, necessitate, negotiate, noncandidate, obliterate, officiate, Orange Free State, orientate, originate, oxygenate, participate, particulate, patriarchate, patriciate, perambulate, peregrinate, perpetuate, pontificate, precipitate, predestinate, predominate, prefabricate, premeditate, preponderate, prevaricate, procrastinate, prognosticate, proliferate, propitiate, proportionate, quadruplicate, quintuplicate, reciprocate, recriminate, recuperate, redecorate, reduplicate, reeducate, refrigerate, regenerate, regurgitate, reincarnate, reintegrate, reiterate, rejuvenate, remunerate, repatriate, repudiate, resuscitate, retaliate, reticulate, revaluate, reverberate, scholasticate, second estate, self-flagellate, self-immolate, self-pollinate, seventy-eight, sextuplicate, Singapore Strait, sophisticate, subordinate, substantiate, syllabicate, tergiversate, transliterate, triangulate, vanity plate, variegate, vaticinate, vituperate, vociferate



noun il·lu·mi·nate \-nət\

Definition of illuminate


  1. :  one having or claiming unusual enlightenment


First Known Use of illuminate


ILLUMINATE Defined for Kids


verb il·lu·mi·nate \i-ˈlü-mə-ˌnāt\

Definition of illuminate for Students


  1. 1 :  to supply with light :  light up <He clutched Rose as a dazzling blast illuminated the lobby… — Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck>

  2. 2 :  to make clear :  explain <His speech illuminated the subject.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up illuminate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

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