en·​light·​en·​ment | \in-ˈlī-tᵊn-mənt, en-\

Definition of enlightenment 

1 : the act or means of enlightening : the state of being enlightened

2 capitalized : a philosophical movement of the 18th century marked by a rejection of traditional social, religious, and political ideas and an emphasis on rationalism used with the

3 Buddhism : a final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering

Examples of enlightenment in a Sentence

the search for spiritual enlightenment His comments failed to provide enlightenment. the enlightenment of the public through education
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Recent Examples on the Web

But Wood House Army’s Spring 2019 collection takes a distinctly pacifist approach to the troubles plaguing our contemporary world, positing enlightenment and self actualization over a political agenda. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "A Designer With a Military Past Looks for Peace," 11 July 2018 With figures and objects materializing in space from darkness and gloom, chiaroscuro could be a pictorial metaphor for enlightenment — the proverbial light bulb moment, or the visual equivalent of something dawning on you. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "Out of the shadows and into the light: 'Chiaroscuro Woodcut' is a sleeper hit at LACMA," 5 July 2018 The Freemasons were founded on beliefs in assisting those in need and in the enlightenment of education. Courtney Mcgee, baltimoresun.com, "New name, new funding for group helping needy students," 20 June 2018 Hundreds of residents from throughout the area had answered the call to attend a concert marketed as an opportunity for enlightenment, both spiritual and environmental. Longreads, "The Koch Brothers vs. God," 14 Mar. 2018 But as Sri Lankans prepared to celebrate Vesak, the holiday this week commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death, the government shook a stern finger. Maria Abi-habib, New York Times, "How to Celebrate Buddha in Sri Lanka? Stop Partying, Some Say," 2 May 2018 Nashville, at the buckle of the Bible Belt, was considered a place of morality and keen enlightenment. USA TODAY, "Nashville and the Destiny of Dissent," 15 Apr. 2018 Is mindfulness meditation a capitalist tool or a path to enlightenment? Robert Wright, WIRED, "Why Pure Reason Won’t End American Tribalism," 9 Apr. 2018 Unlike most detective series, which rely on the bleakness of their protagonists’ lives, Sjöwall and Wahlöö allowed their detective a journey of enlightenment and redemptive love. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enlightenment.' 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 enlightenment

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of enlightenment was in 1621

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English Language Learners Definition of enlightenment

: the state of having knowledge or understanding : the act of giving someone knowledge or understanding

the Enlightenment : a movement of the 18th century that stressed the belief that science and logic give people more knowledge and understanding than tradition and religion

Buddhism : a final spiritual state marked by the absence of desire or suffering

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Comments on enlightenment

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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