ex·hil·a·rate | \ig-ˈzi-lə-ˌrāt \
exhilarated; exhilarating

Definition of exhilarate 

transitive verb

1 : to make cheerful and excited : enliven, elate was exhilarated by her success

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Other Words from exhilarate

exhilaratingly \ig-ˈzi-lə-ˌrā-tiŋ-lē \ adverb
exhilarative \ig-ˈzi-lə-ˌrā-tiv \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for exhilarate


elate, elevate, enrapture, intoxicate, transport



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Did You Know?

Many people find "exhilarate" a difficult word to spell. It's easy to forget that silent "h" in there, and is it an "er" or "ar" after the "l"? It may be easier to remember the spelling if you know that "exhilarate" is ultimately derived from the Latin adjective hilarus, meaning "cheerful." (This also explains why the earliest meaning of "exhilarate" is "to make cheerful.") "Exhilarate" comes from "exhilaratus," the past participle of "exhilarare," which is formed by combining ex- and hilarare, a verb that derives from "hilarus" and means "to cheer or gladden." If "hilarus" looks familiar, that may be because it's also the source of "hilarious" and "hilarity" (as well as "hilariously" and "hilariousness," of course).

Examples of exhilarate in a Sentence

the exhilarating feeling of flying that hang gliding offers the climactic moment of commencement ceremonies usually exhilarates graduates and proud parents alike

Recent Examples on the Web

As for the rest of the field, here are 10 drivers to keep an eye on during the 200 exhilarating laps at the Brickyard. Editors, USA TODAY, "'Poppy Memorial,' Danica Patrick, NBA playoffs: 5 things to know this weekend," 26 May 2018 Coming just one day after a players-only meeting about the team’s shaky position, the game was exhilarating: a perfect feat of statistical improbability to dismiss the idea that this club should ever be considered a lost cause. Emma Baccellieri, SI.com, "What Is Wrong With the Washington Nationals?," 6 July 2018 Chamoiseau’s descriptions of the forest — beautifully translated from French and Creole by Linda Coverdale — are exhilarating, but the old man never quite comes into focus against the background of foliage and verbiage. New York Times, "Fleeing a Caribbean Plantation Into a Mythic Wilderness," 27 June 2018 All of this is told in exhilarating prose that moves this narrative briskly along without getting mired in the tall weeds of technical jargon. Scott Stantis, chicagotribune.com, "'Chasing New Horizons' spins fascinating chronicle of Pluto mission," 11 May 2018 Illusionism in painting is long past being a given, yet there is still something exhilarating about work that breaks the fourth wall and brings us into the game — art that fixes our attention on how it is made, the mechanisms behind its effects. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "Markus Amm's luminous paintings, like portals into liquid worlds of color," 13 Mar. 2018 There are loud arguments, fraught encounters, dastardly threats and exhilarating acts of heroism. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Frontier Justice In 'Flyin' West' At Westport Playhouse," 5 June 2018 The effect is at first exhilarating, then discombobulating, then exhausting. Elisabeth Egan, New York Times, "Love Warrior," 1 June 2018 The other part of me finds the velocity exhilarating. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Data Sheet—After Thrashing the News Business, Google Seeks to Make Amends," 21 Mar. 2018

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

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for exhilarate

Latin exhilaratus, past participle of exhilarare, from ex- + hilarare to gladden, from hilarus cheerful — more at hilarious

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Statistics for exhilarate

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for exhilarate

The first known use of exhilarate was in 1540

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More Definitions for exhilarate



English Language Learners Definition of exhilarate

: to cause (someone) to feel very happy and excited


ex·hil·a·rate | \ig-ˈzi-lə-ˌrāt \
exhilarated; exhilarating

Kids Definition of exhilarate

: to make cheerful or excited

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Comments on exhilarate

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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