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

Forget about four-star hotels or luxury spa treatments: Bourdain is on a mission to illuminate underappreciated and misunderstood cultures, whether it’s Myanmar or Detroit. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "Anthony Bourdain: 1956-2018," 9 June 2018 Accounts of the 1957 festival bear a striking resemblance to the World Cup, down to the hanging of streetlights in pedestrian areas to better illuminate the faces of revelers. Amie Ferris-rotman, Washington Post, "At World Cup, Russians embrace the world, one relationship at a time," 9 July 2018 Russia’s unforeseen success illuminated the whole tournament. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Russia Finally Falls, Leaving a Trail of Admirers and Doubters," 8 July 2018 Massive balloons bounced from head to head as bright lights illuminated the eyes of the delighted crowd. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Best and worst of Summerfest Day 9: Janelle Monáe, Flaming Lips, BØRNS, Judah & the Lion and more," 7 July 2018 Video released early Tuesday by the Thai navy showed the boys in their soccer uniforms sitting on a dry area inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave above the water as a spotlight from a rescuer illuminated their faces. Tassannee Vejpongsa, BostonGlobe.com, "Trapped boys may have to dive from Thai cave despite peril," 3 July 2018 Video released early Tuesday by the Thai navy showed the boys in their soccer uniforms sitting on a dry area inside the cave above the water as a spotlight, apparently from a rescuer, illuminated their faces. Tassanee Vejpongsa, Houston Chronicle, "Boys, coach in stable health after 10 days lost in Thai cave," 2 July 2018 In fact, about 80 percent of our world’s bioluminescence lies beneath the ocean surface, with thousands of species of fish, bacteria, algae and worms illuminating the nooks and crannies of the deep. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Why Bioluminescence Evolved to Be Red Light, and Blue," 26 June 2018 Watching his character inhabit so many different bodies illuminated an early fascination with queerness. Kt Hawbaker, Chicago Reader, "What were you watching, reading, or listening to when you first came out?," 15 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

10 Oct 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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