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bril·​liant ˈbril-yənt How to pronounce brilliant (audio)
: very bright : glittering
a brilliant light
: striking, distinctive
a brilliant example
: distinguished by unusual mental keenness or alertness
brilliant scientists
British : very good : excellent
brilliantly adverb


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: a gem (such as a diamond) cut in a particular form with numerous facets so as to have special brightness or brilliance

Illustration of brilliant

Illustration of brilliant
  • 1 table
  • 2 bezel
  • 3 girdle
  • 4 pavilion
  • 5 culet
Choose the Right Synonym for brilliant

bright, brilliant, radiant, luminous, lustrous mean shining or glowing with light.

bright implies emitting or reflecting a high degree of light.

brilliant implies intense often sparkling brightness.

radiant stresses the emission or seeming emission of rays of light.

luminous implies emission of steady, suffused, glowing light by reflection or in surrounding darkness.

lustrous stresses an even, rich light from a surface that reflects brightly without glittering.

Example Sentences

Adjective a brilliant star in the sky a store decorated in brilliant colors He pitched a brilliant game. She gave a brilliant performance. She has a brilliant mind. Noun the diamond cutter set out an array of brilliants to show the various ways the diamond could be cut See More
Recent Examples on the Web
But his background as one of the world’s most brilliant education researchers and social scientists clearly informs his smart leadership of a complex institution that enrolls nearly 36,000 students. Shaun Harper, Forbes, 23 Jan. 2023 Two of the most brilliant string players of their generation, both men have had long careers as classical music celebrities. Dallas News, 20 Jan. 2023 His first-half defensive scheme was brilliant, his second-half plan stunk. Nick Canepacolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Jan. 2023 Even the most brilliant theories can’t be accepted until they’ve been confirmed in the complex, often uncooperative physical world. James B. Meigs, WSJ, 13 Jan. 2023 Bennett was brilliant on Monday, accounting for six total touchdowns. Conor Ryan,, 11 Jan. 2023 Their lectures were often brilliant, but never complete. Chris Wheatley, Longreads, 5 Jan. 2023 Harden unleashed a 60-point triple double in a win over Orlando in January 2018, creating a singular historical club in one of the most brilliant performances in NBA history. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 5 Dec. 2022 Despite literally eating stars and being called black holes, black holes create some of the most brilliant light in the universe. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 30 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History



French brillant, present participle of briller to shine, from Italian brillare


borrowed from French brillant, noun derivative of brillant brilliant entry 1

First Known Use


circa 1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1690, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of brilliant was circa 1681

Dictionary Entries Near brilliant

Cite this Entry

“Brilliant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
bril·​liant ˈbril-yənt How to pronounce brilliant (audio)
: flashing with light : very bright
brilliant jewels
: very impressive
a brilliant career
: very smart or clever
a brilliant student
a brilliant idea
brilliantly adverb


2 of 2 noun
: a gem (as a diamond) cut so as to sparkle

More from Merriam-Webster on brilliant

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