illuminate

verb
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-ˌnāt \
illuminated; illuminating

Definition of illuminate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to supply or brighten with light
(2) : to make luminous or shining
b : to enlighten spiritually or intellectually
c : to subject to radiation
d archaic : to set alight
2a : to make clear : elucidate
b : to bring to the fore : highlight a crisis can illuminate how interdependent we all are
3 : to make illustrious or resplendent
4 : to decorate (something, such as a manuscript) with gold or silver or brilliant colors or with often elaborate designs or miniature pictures

illuminate

adjective
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-nət \

Definition of illuminate (Entry 2 of 3)

1 archaic : brightened with light
2 archaic : intellectually or spiritually enlightened

illuminate

noun
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-nət \

Definition of illuminate (Entry 3 of 3)

archaic
: one having or claiming unusual enlightenment

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from illuminate

Verb

illuminator \ i-​ˈlü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for illuminate

Synonyms: Verb

bathe, beacon, emblaze, illume, illumine, irradiate, light, lighten

Antonyms: Verb

blacken, darken, obfuscate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of illuminate in a Sentence

Verb

the part of the moon illuminated by the sun A university study has illuminated the problem.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

So his team built two large tanks, one 1.2 meters tall and outfitted with blue light-emitting diodes and one 2 meters tall illuminated with a blue laser. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Tiny shrimp may be mixing ocean water as much as the wind and waves," 18 Apr. 2018 Pressner dressed front light with white boards which bounced, deflected, and defused the light, the primary consequence of which was a house and audience illuminated throughout the piece. Lauren Warnecke, chicagotribune.com, "'In a Rhythm': Choreographer Bebe Miller talks a lot, the music includes a Nelly hit — it's a fascinating, atypical approach to dance," 6 Apr. 2018 In illuminating the linkages among a cast of notable figures and institutions, Poirier brings this complex world to life, showing surprising and intimate connections. Nina Renata Aron, The New Republic, "The Spirit of the Left Bank," 21 Mar. 2018 Errant beams of sunlight are a clichéd way of illuminating a hidden treasure, but that didn’t stop a California sunbeam from solving a 90-year-old mystery at the fabled Hearst Castle. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Sunshine Sheds Light on 17th-Century Mystery Painting At Hearst Castle," 14 Mar. 2018 The scene down below is like a sparring gym crossed with a German beer hall, illuminated like an airport bathroom (and often smelling like one, too). Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek, "America’s Best and Drunkest," 11 Sep. 2014 This week, in the first round of competition, the glow-in-the-dark Siberian dance troupe illuminated the stage with its unique visual depiction of the push and pull between good and evil in the modern age. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "EXCLUSIVE: 'America's Got Talent' Udi Dance Group Wows Again This Week," 30 July 2018 In the background, headlights from a vehicle and the Walmart sign illuminate the scene. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "8-foot alligator caught outside Walmart was making a midnight run, Texas cops say," 29 June 2018 Waves in the glass façade of the two-story building recall a theater curtain, and spotlights in the ceiling illuminate the fiberglass sculptures and busts of actors dotting the store. Danielle Fox, ELLE Decor, "Dolce & Gabbana's New Store Is Modeled After a Famous Opera House," 18 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The problem is that, while the careful study of history can provide policymakers with powerful insights, incongruous comparisons can just as easily obscure as illuminate contemporary challenges. Richard Fontaine, The Atlantic, "The Uses and Misuses of Historical Analogy for North Korea," 3 Oct. 2017 Throughout the film, interviews reveal the pervasive abuses committed against infants, children and teens as well as illuminate groups and people who are working to stop it. Kimber Myers, latimes.com, "Filmmaker-monk goes after sex trade in documentary 'Stopping Traffic'," 28 Sep. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of illuminate

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1600, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for illuminate

Verb

Middle English, from Latin illuminatus, past participle of illuminare, from in- + luminare to light up, from lumin-, lumen light — more at luminary

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about illuminate

Share illuminate

Statistics for illuminate

Last Updated

17 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illuminate

The first known use of illuminate was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for illuminate

illuminate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of illuminate

: to supply (something) with light : to shine light on (something)

: to make (something) clear and easier to understand

illuminate

verb
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-ˌnāt \
illuminated; illuminating

Kids Definition of illuminate

1 : to supply with light : light up He clutched Rose as a dazzling blast illuminated the lobby…— Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck
2 : to make clear : explain His speech illuminated the subject.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on illuminate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!