illuminate

verb
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \
illuminated; illuminating

Definition of illuminate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to supply or brighten with light
(2) : to make luminous or shining
b : to enlighten spiritually or intellectually
c : to subject to radiation
d archaic : to set alight
2a : to make clear : elucidate
b : to bring to the fore : highlight a crisis can illuminate how interdependent we all are
3 : to make illustrious or resplendent
4 : to decorate (something, such as a manuscript) with gold or silver or brilliant colors or with often elaborate designs or miniature pictures

illuminate

adjective
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-nət How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \

Definition of illuminate (Entry 2 of 3)

1 archaic : brightened with light
2 archaic : intellectually or spiritually enlightened

illuminate

noun
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-nət How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \

Definition of illuminate (Entry 3 of 3)

archaic
: one having or claiming unusual enlightenment

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from illuminate

Verb

illuminator \ i-​ˈlü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce illuminator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for illuminate

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of illuminate in a Sentence

Verb the part of the moon illuminated by the sun A university study has illuminated the problem.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb During the evenings, lights illuminate the creations for a magical viewing experience. Heather Balogh Rochfort, The Know, "9 of Colorado’s best winter festivals," 18 Nov. 2019 Tonight's Full Moon may illuminate more than the landscape. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Nov. 11, 2019: Happy birthday Tye Sheridan; Libra, be a good sport," 11 Nov. 2019 These novels turn the reader’s attention outward, illuminating not just the nature of the Underground Railroad and of migration pathways, respectively, but of the world that necessitated and produced them. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "How “The Memory Police” Makes You See," 6 Nov. 2019 But instead of a priest, Evil illuminated Fuller outside of the house. Lynette Rice, EW.com, "Evil recreates iconic moment from The Exorcist," 25 Oct. 2019 Some medications that improve sleep, for example, still fail to improve learning and memory; future studies of the balance of slow waves produced under their influence might illuminate why. Quanta Magazine, "Dueling Brain Waves Anchor or Erase Learning During Sleep," 24 Oct. 2019 Your break down of the Rockies record with and without leads was illuminating. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies Mailbag: General manager Jeff Bridich might have to become a “wheeler dealer” this offseason," 23 Oct. 2019 Our flashlights illuminated the eyes of not too distant alligators. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "The Outsize Role of Tiny Mosquitoes in Human History," 11 Oct. 2019 Arc lighting was great for illuminating streets and large buildings. National Geographic, "Edison and Tesla's cutthroat 'Current War' ushered in the electric age," 27 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The problem is that, while the careful study of history can provide policymakers with powerful insights, incongruous comparisons can just as easily obscure as illuminate contemporary challenges. Richard Fontaine, The Atlantic, "The Uses and Misuses of Historical Analogy for North Korea," 3 Oct. 2017 Throughout the film, interviews reveal the pervasive abuses committed against infants, children and teens as well as illuminate groups and people who are working to stop it. Kimber Myers, latimes.com, "Filmmaker-monk goes after sex trade in documentary 'Stopping Traffic'," 28 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illuminate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of illuminate

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1600, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for illuminate

Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about illuminate

Time Traveler for illuminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of illuminate was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for illuminate

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Illuminate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Illuminated. Accessed 11 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for illuminate

illuminate

verb
How to pronounce illuminate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of illuminate

: to supply (something) with light : to shine light on (something)
: to make (something) clear and easier to understand

illuminate

verb
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \
illuminated; illuminating

Kids Definition of illuminate

1 : to supply with light : light up He clutched Rose as a dazzling blast illuminated the lobby…— Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck
2 : to make clear : explain His speech illuminated the subject.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on illuminate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

heavy with or as if with moisture

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!