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 There’s something both taboo and enlightening in the twist this sly story takes. BostonGlobe.com, "Zadie Smith’s fifth novel, “," 4 Oct. 2019 Many Nigerians are ignorant about limb loss and its causes, so TIF helps to enlighten them through radio and TV appearances says Chigbu. Aisha Salaudeen, CNN, "This woman is helping disabled children walk for the first time," 9 Aug. 2019 Speaking of security issues, senator Mark Warner enlightened us about Russia's designs on the 2020 elections. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Security News This Week: Apple Contractors Will Stop Listening to Your Siri Recordings—For Now," 3 Aug. 2019 Microsoft’s Krysta Svore and Andrew Fursman of 1QBit should enlighten. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Answering Some of the Biggest Questions Facing the Tech Industry—Data Sheet," 15 July 2019 Her voice is one of the many captivating, haunting and enlightening in the film. Rick Kogan, chicagotribune.com, "New film remembers the SS Eastland and the day 844 died in the Chicago River," 17 July 2019 But the gibberish emitted from the phones sounds too much like conversations carried on over weak signals, more frustrating than enlightening. David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, "Why the Snapchat exhibition at LACMA looks cool but ultimately rings hollow," 14 Sep. 2019 The free event was designed to educate, enlighten and entertain families about why bugs are important to our environment, according to the news release. Greg Burnett, cleveland.com, "Lake Metroparks Penitentiary Glen Reservation goes buggy," 6 Sep. 2019 His description of the late-night calls, peculiar situations and challenging family dilemmas enlightened me to the more personal side of medical practice and its intangible rewards. Heidi Stevens, chicagotribune.com, "Column: I asked what book made you feel like you belong. Here are your beautiful answers," 22 Aug. 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

17 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for enlighten

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

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More Definitions for enlighten


How to pronounce enlighten (audio)

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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