en·​light·​en in-ˈlī-tᵊn How to pronounce enlighten (audio)
enlightened; enlightening in-ˈlīt-niŋ How to pronounce enlighten (audio)

transitive verb

: to furnish knowledge to : instruct
enlightened us about the problem
: to give spiritual insight to
archaic : illuminate

Examples of enlighten in a Sentence

I don't understand what's going on; can someone please enlighten me? the lecturer at the planetarium enlightened us about the latest astronomical discoveries
Recent Examples on the Web Watching my sisters become mothers and nieces become women has only reminded me of the tender care necessary to enlighten the feminine divine. Laila Annmarie Stevens, Parents, 15 Jan. 2024 Jimmy Buffett looks at 50 years after his first Key West gig How Buffett fits in with the church Count Hafner among the enlightened. Howard Cohen, Miami Herald, 29 Mar. 2024 Around the globe, an array of new museum openings are also poised to enlighten and inspire. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Jan. 2024 The interview provided little groundbreaking substance that would enlighten American audiences as to what Putin intends to do about Ukraine, which has been devastated by nearly two years of unprovoked Russian bombardment and unlawful occupation. Nathan Hodge, CNN, 8 Feb. 2024 The Hill, a widely read news source inside the Beltway, wrote a story about the letter that included background that may have enlightened the uninitiated. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Feb. 2024 Through March, the community is invited to read the book and come together for a wide variety of events: presentations that enlighten and encourage civic dialog, lively book discussions, documentary screenings, blues music, and youth activities, in libraries and other area venues across the Valley. Michelle Jenkins, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 Think carefully about how your content will educate, entertain, or enlighten. Jon Stojan, The Arizona Republic, 8 Mar. 2024 So why then would Facebook have initially blocked posts about a drama that is trying to enlighten the public about what even the Department of Homeland Security acknowledges as one of the gravest threats facing the nation? Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 5 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'enlighten.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of enlighten was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near enlighten

Cite this Entry

“Enlighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enlighten. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


en·​light·​en in-ˈlīt-ᵊn How to pronounce enlighten (audio)
enlightened; enlightening -ˈlīt-niŋ How to pronounce enlighten (audio)
: to give knowledge or understanding to : instruct
enlightened us about the problem

More from Merriam-Webster on enlighten

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