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

In addition to Fike’s illuminating work, the 6-10 p.m. event features a DJ set from Cities of Earth (a.k.a. John Wenzel, The Know, "How to celebrate Fourth of July in Colorado without the fireworks," 28 June 2019 The light illuminating the fountain in the center of the pool was also purple, Harrell’s favorite color. Tess Sheets, orlandosentinel.com, "Shortly after vigil, UCF student London Harrell hurt in hit-and-run crash dies, mother says," 28 June 2019 The columns about school are well-reported and illuminate a larger issue affecting the community. Nola.com | The Times-picayune, nola.com, "NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune wins 11 awards in national features journalism contest," 26 June 2019 ProctorU not only tells us a lot about the future of education, but illuminates the basic borders, and limits, of human character. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al.com, "ProctorU offering new monitoring for Google program," 26 June 2019 The bruising, emotional debate over the co-op ordinance two years ago illuminated contrasting opinions about how a city — and neighbors — should define a home. Cassa Niedringhaus, The Denver Post, "Once-controversial, Boulder housing co-ops proving worth in affordability, community," 16 June 2019 The large room was dark, with only the cone of inverted light illuminating the pages of my book. Longreads, "Demonology: A Woman’s Right to Fury," 10 June 2019 The eerie portrait has a Rembrandt-like high contrast with bright white light illuminating Jolie's silhouette in the darkness. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Angelina Jolie Looks Both Terrifying and Beautiful in the New Maleficent Poster and I'm Shook," 7 Mar. 2019 Designer Alisa Bloom used Fine Paints of Europe’s Delft Blue 4003 in Hollandlac Brilliant to illuminate this bedroom. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "A Paint Expert's Simple Guide to Choosing the Right Paint Finish," 4 Mar. 2019

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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Statistics for illuminate

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

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 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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Comments on illuminate

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