il·​lu·​mi·​na·​tion | \ i-ˌlü-mə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce illumination (audio) \

Definition of illumination

1 : the action of illuminating or state of being illuminated: such as
a : spiritual or intellectual enlightenment
b(1) : a lighting up
(2) : decorative lighting or lighting effects
c : decoration by the art of illuminating
2 : the luminous flux per unit area on an intercepting surface at any given point
3 : one of the decorative features used in the art of illuminating or in decorative lighting

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of illumination in a Sentence

When taking photographs indoors, use a flash for illumination. They traveled to the temple in search of spiritual illumination. an old manuscript with beautiful illuminations
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Because reducing illumination is a key part of the Lights Out program, participants may also benefit from lower utility bills., "Cleveland Metroparks partner with Ohio Lights Out to promote bird-friendly buildings," 2 Sep. 2019 Some prayed and other marveled as Father Garcia spoke about the event to celebrate the solar illumination. Elaine Ayala,, "Father David Garcia has left an indelible mark on his hometown," 27 June 2019 Both the mural, and the Atrium 2 illumination, will remain through the end of June. Sharon Coolidge,, "Cincinnati Bell building decked out in rainbow Post-It note mural in honor of Pride month," 13 June 2019 Maze is dancers dueling dualities submerged in sound and spotlights; freedom and captivity, illumination and darkness, life and death. Dasun Imanuel, Essence, "Street Dance Evolves From The Subway To Centerstage In The Powerful Performance 'Maze'," 28 Aug. 2019 This in turn leads to a process called quantum illumination, where information about one particle’s environment can be inferred by studying the other particle. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "How Quantum Radar Could Completely Change Warfare," 26 Aug. 2019 Starting Tuesday night, Americans will have a chance to experience the Apollo 11 rocket launch and moon landing in a multi-part visual show, starting with the illumination of the east face of the Washington Monument with a 363-foot Saturn V rocket. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, "NASA put a man on the moon. Now, the Smithsonian is putting a rocket in DC," 15 July 2019 Twenty-two percent of coastal regions receive a similar degree of artificial illumination, with light emanating from sources such as housing developments, promenades, ports, harbors and dockyards. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Thanks to Light Pollution, We’re Losing Nemo," 11 July 2019 This show at the Getty gathers some very dynamic examples from the museum’s collection of objects and illuminations — such as an unusual unicorn water vessel from 15th century Germany. Carolina A. Miranda,, "Datebook: At the Getty, one of Gordon Parks’ most controversial photographic series," 11 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illumination.' 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 illumination

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about illumination

Statistics for illumination

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illumination

The first known use of illumination was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for illumination



English Language Learners Definition of illumination

: light that comes into a room, that shines on something, etc.
formal : knowledge or understanding
: a gold or colored decoration in an old book


il·​lu·​mi·​na·​tion | \ i-ˌlü-mə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce illumination (audio) \

Kids Definition of illumination

: the action of lighting something : the state of being lighted


il·​lu·​mi·​na·​tion | \ il-ˌü-mə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce illumination (audio) \

Medical Definition of illumination

1 : the action of supplying or brightening with light or the resulting state
2 : the luminous flux per unit area on an intercepting surface at any given point

called also illuminance

Other Words from illumination

illuminate \ il-​ˈü-​mə-​ˌnāt How to pronounce illuminate (audio) \ transitive verb illuminated; illuminating

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on illumination

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


miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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