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

Example Sentences

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 Cute autumnal media features like The New York Times’ recent photo-essay on wild turkey mating rituals are unlikely to enlighten them. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, 24 Nov. 2022 The startup has also been hosting various conferences across Africa such as ETHSafari in Kenya, Africa Money & DeFi Summit in Ghana, and CryptoFest in South-Africa, to enlighten Africans about the various possibilities of blockchain technology. Faustine Ngila, Quartz, 2 Oct. 2022 The clip started a conversation, and even led to Bobbi creating her own response video to enlighten the TikTok creator on how to use the product for best results. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 13 Sep. 2022 Continuing a long tradition of first-person writing on drugs, Pollan and Hart both offer personal testimony of their drug use that goes beyond those tropes to enlighten readers and dispel misconceptions and stigma. Lucy Jakub, The New York Review of Books, 3 Sep. 2021 With his new device, Naert has invited Maxwell’s Demon to confuse and enlighten us at a new scale. Sophia Chen, WIRED, 14 Oct. 2022 Surveys from clients will guide you in knowing what your clients are looking for, especially when creating content, and will enlighten you to the understanding that your wants and needs may not be their wants and needs. Cindy Kosor, Forbes, 4 Aug. 2022 There are people here that would love to have the opportunity to enlighten and expose and put forth this wonderful music. Ana Monroy Yglesias, Billboard, 1 Sep. 2022 Teachers are thus expected to enlighten children, often against the supposedly benighted values of their parents. WSJ, 31 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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 6 Dec. 2022.

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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