illuminate

1 of 3

verb

il·​lu·​mi·​nate i-ˈlü-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce illuminate (audio)
illuminated; illuminating

transitive verb

1
a(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
2
a
: 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
illuminator noun

illuminate

2 of 3

adjective

il·​lu·​mi·​nate i-ˈlü-mə-nət How to pronounce illuminate (audio)
1
archaic : brightened with light
2
archaic : intellectually or spiritually enlightened

illuminate

3 of 3

noun

il·​lu·​mi·​nate i-ˈlü-mə-nət How to pronounce illuminate (audio)
archaic
: one having or claiming unusual enlightenment

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
Winding factual aspects of the surrealist art movement through a fictional story, the authors quietly but accurately illuminate how female painters have been marginalized throughout history, often expected to live in the shadows of more successful – but not necessarily more talented – male artists. Joan Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 July 2024 But cracks were exposed in that firewall, illuminating some of the same dynamics that have buoyed right-wing parties elsewhere in Europe. Josh Feldman, NBC News, 8 July 2024
Adjective
The pillars are illuminate, educate, engage, energize, and future. IEEE Spectrum, 9 Feb. 2024 The other four pillars are designated illuminate, educate, engage, and energize. IEEE Spectrum, 3 May 2023
Noun
Subscribe to Axios Communicators for more stories like this Colin Demarest Jul 10, 2024 - World Inside the next era of warfare: How tech is reshaping the battlefield Conflicts abroad and defense-contract competitions at home illuminate in real time the future of America's war machine. Colin Demarest, Axios, 11 July 2024 Watch:Doordash driver's dashcam video shows meteor illuminate night sky in Florida Artemis astronauts will need a vehicle on the moon. Gabe Hauari, USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for illuminate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'illuminate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Latin illuminatus, past participle of illuminare, from in- + luminare to light up, from lumin-, lumen light — more at luminary

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near illuminate

Cite this Entry

“Illuminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/illuminate. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

illuminate

verb
il·​lu·​mi·​nate
il-ˈü-mə-ˌnāt
illuminated; illuminating
1
: to supply with light : light up
illuminate a room
the part of the moon illuminated by the sun
2
: to make clear : explain
illuminated the point with good examples
3
: to decorate with designs or pictures in gold or colors
illuminate a manuscript
illuminative
-ˌnāt-iv
adjective
illuminator
-ˌnāt-ər
noun

More from Merriam-Webster on illuminate

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