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

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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

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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

This epistolary approach evokes a measure of intimacy and illuminates the undeniable complexities of the Israeli history, across the millennia. Barbara Mahany, chicagotribune.com, "Jimmy Carter's latest book, 'Faith,' leads this week's roundup of spiritual books," 9 July 2018 Starting this month, the eclipses will begin illuminating the Cancer-Capricorn axis, fueling major changes in — well, every aspect of your life. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Sign's July 2018 Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 29 June 2018 During these special evenings, the setting sun aligns perfectly with NYC’s grid, illuminating both sides of every east-west facing street in an orange glow. Renae Reints, Fortune, "This Is Your Last Chance to Experience Manhattanhenge in 2018," 12 July 2018 On the day, a colourful cascade of fireworks illuminated Astana’s gleaming space-age facades. The Economist, "The president of Kazakhstan throws himself a modest birthday bash," 12 July 2018 Floodlights illuminated the protestor’s tents all night. Philly.com, "ICE protestors outside City Hall battle heat, loss of electricity," 9 July 2018 Americans celebrated the nation’s birth this week, and one of the mysteries of its founding may soon be illuminated. Gillian Brockell, Washington Post, "Dismissed as a forgery, could a mysterious stone found near Roanoke’s ‘Lost Colony’ be real?," 5 July 2018 Third-party estimates like Chartmetric's FEL ratio demonstrate how looking beyond follower count alone can illuminate the true dark horses on Spotify in the race for engagement. Cherie Hu, Billboard, "Millions of Followers? Yes, But Some Top Spotify Playlists Fall Short on Engagement," 3 July 2018 The sun danced off the hillsides, illuminating the white houses with terracotta roofs. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "Heaven on earth? This Courier Journal sports writer thinks he found it," 29 June 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.

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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

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Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illuminate

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

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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.

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