illuminate

verb
il·​lu·​mi·​nate | \ i-ˈlü-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \

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 How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \

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 How to pronounce illuminator (audio) \ 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

Starting with cocktails and Champagne, guests enjoyed a signature menu from renowned cook Sylvestre Wahid; on the tables, candles twinkled and illuminated the flower arrangements. Thomas Delage, Vogue, "Beauties in Brock Collection Gathered for a Meal to Celebrate the Brand's New Capsule Collection," 4 Mar. 2019 Few had written about the sea the way Forster did: thick, impenetrable fogs; giant waves, whipped into spirals by punishing winds; fields of ice suffused with purple as darkness fell; columns of white light illuminating the sky at night. Christoph Irmscher, WSJ, "‘Georg Forster’ Review: In Search of Earthly Paradise," 22 Feb. 2019 But Vice smooshes a bunch of metaphors together, none of which are particularly illuminating. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Vice doesn’t want to humanize Dick Cheney. So instead, it (maybe) demonizes America.," 21 Dec. 2018 Red and blue lights illuminated two rows of chairs on the stage, which was lined by lilies and adorned with greenery and white rose floral displays. Fox News, "The Latest: Firefighters salute, mourners hold McCain signs," 30 Aug. 2018 The fight, later named the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, saw Hiei use her powerful searchlights to illuminate the American ships. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Sunken Japanese World War II Battleship Discovered Off Solomon Islands," 7 Feb. 2019 In the United States, buildings account for nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions mostly due to the energy required to heat, cool, and illuminate them. Diana Budds, Curbed, "This enormous pulsating sculpture tells you how much energy a building uses," 9 Oct. 2018 Now the Vogue cover girl is at it again, this time live from her bathroom, where the sun seeps through an open window and effortlessly illuminates her in all the right places: the apples of her sky-high cheekbones, tip of her nose, and décolletage. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Watch Imaan Hammam’s “Long Week, No Sleep” Beauty Routine," 19 Sep. 2018 The chandelier originally used candles to illuminate. Janet Eastman, OregonLive.com, "Glory days return to gilded 1882 Italianate mansion built for Portland shoe merchant (photos)," 24 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.

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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

14 Mar 2019

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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 How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \
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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