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

Definition of enlighten

transitive verb

1a : to furnish knowledge to : instruct enlightened us about the problem
b : to give spiritual insight to
2 archaic : illuminate

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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

Party crashers Then, of course, there are the disruptors: the industry mavericks who enter the game, rewrite the rules, and enlighten travelers on what a hotel can do, be, and feel like. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Hotels in the U.S. Are Better Than Ever," 23 Aug. 2019 What’s enlightening about this latest twist is how the court’s originalists, who are now ascendant in the federal judiciary, reached starkly different conclusions. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Conservative Judges Are Brawling Over Originalism," 22 Aug. 2019 And now, Kim's BFF, Larsa Pippen, is talking about what went down on the Hollywood Unlocked [UNCENSORED] podcast and this new info is...enlightening. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Jeffree Star May Have Been Right About the Jordyn Woods Tristan Thompson Cheating Scandal After All," 9 July 2019 In antiquity up through the Renaissance, fame was the name given to humankind's admiration for individuals who enlighten, entertain, and advance it. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "The Elusive Price—and Prize—of Fame on the Internet," 20 Aug. 2019 Darby enlightened us as follows: the cartels (who may or may not have been the mafias) might overwhelm a certain border sector with children, and while the poor Border Patrol agents were coping with those, in zipped a monster load of drugs! Colin Barrett, Harper's magazine, "“Just Keep Going North”," 5 July 2019 As such, the backroom shake up is expected to enlighten the Spaniard to strength within the club's development ranks - with former 'invincible' Ljungberg having first hand experience with the players who could make the jump up to first team. SI.com, "Freddie Ljungberg Set to Join Arsenal First Team Coaching Staff Ahead of Major Backroom Overhaul," 5 June 2019 The Nantucket Historical Association leads an enlightening downtown walking tour. Danica Farley, Orange County Register, "A whale of a time in Nantucket," 17 July 2019 The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who was the face of Nike's 30th-anniversary campaign, enlightened the brand on the complicated history behind the 13-star flag featured on the shoe's heel. Channing Hargrove, refinery29.com, "Colin Kaepernick Told Nike To Pull A Betsey Ross Flag Shoe — & They Did," 2 July 2019

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

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First Known Use of enlighten

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

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Statistics for enlighten

Last Updated

8 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for enlighten

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

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More Definitions for enlighten



English Language Learners Definition of enlighten

: to give knowledge or understanding to (someone) : to explain something to (someone)


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

Kids Definition of enlighten

: to give knowledge or understanding to “Where is she now? Will someone please enlighten me?”— Brian Jacques, Redwall

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Comments on enlighten

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


to make a temporary encampment

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