il·​lus·​trate | \ ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt also i-ˈlə- How to pronounce illustrate (audio) \
illustrated; illustrating

Definition of illustrate

transitive verb

1a : to provide with visual features intended to explain or decorate illustrate a book
b : to make clear by giving or by serving as an example or instance
c : to make clear : clarify
2 : to show clearly : demonstrate
3 obsolete
b : to light up
4a archaic : to make illustrious
b obsolete
(1) : to make bright
(2) : adorn

intransitive verb

: to give an example or instance

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Other Words from illustrate

illustrator \ ˈi-​lə-​ˌstrā-​tər How to pronounce illustrator (audio) also  i-​ˈlə-​ \ noun

Examples of illustrate in a Sentence

He illustrated his lecture with stories of his own experiences in the field. Please give a few examples to illustrate your point. The results illustrate how important it is to wear your seatbelt. The students will write and illustrate their own stories.
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Recent Examples on the Web The tipster showed the paper personal details about Israeli VIPs to illustrate the kind of information available. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "Benjamin Netanyahu’s election app potentially exposed data for every Israeli voter," 10 Feb. 2020 USA TODAY Sports spoke with four XFL players about their unique journeys to the league in an attempt to illustrate what the league means in the broader football ecosystem. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Different roads to the XFL: How the new league has helped resurrect some dreams, and keep others alive," 8 Feb. 2020 To illustrate this point, Filucci recalls being in line at the grocery store and overhearing a (very grown-up) woman in front of her share a conspiracy theory about the coronavirus with the cashier. NBC News, "How to talk to your kids about the coronavirus (and ease their fears)," 7 Feb. 2020 Cummins has said her novel was supposed to illustrate the trials and challenges Latino regularly immigrants face. oregonlive, "Commentary: ‘American Dirt’ is unlike any Mexican immigrant story you’ve ever read. And that’s the problem," 30 Jan. 2020 Scenes from a fictional story about an affluent American family are interspersed with these information-dense interviews to illustrate the concepts at work. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Social Dilemma': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 To illustrate, consider this fraught question that bears on public policy: What are the effects of socioeconomic disadvantage on IQ? Charles Murray, WSJ, "Genetics Will Revolutionize Social Science," 27 Jan. 2020 Chimiugak used a knife in the mud to illustrate her stories to schoolchildren. Time, "Alaska Native Elder, 90, Is First American Counted in 2020 Census," 22 Jan. 2020 To Green, that meant closely following an assistant’s mundane daily rhythms and tasks to illustrate the job’s demoralizing nature. Tyler Aquilina,, "The Assistant is not just about Harvey Weinstein, says star Julia Garner and director Kitty Green," 22 Jan. 2020

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

1526, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

History and Etymology for illustrate

Latin illustratus, past participle of illustrare, from in- + lustrare to purify, make bright — more at luster

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Time Traveler for illustrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of illustrate was in 1526

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Statistics for illustrate

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Illustrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for illustrate


How to pronounce illustrate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of illustrate

: to give examples in order to make (something) easier to understand
: to be proof or evidence of (something)
: to explain or decorate a story, book, etc., with pictures


il·​lus·​trate | \ ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt How to pronounce illustrate (audio) \
illustrated; illustrating

Kids Definition of illustrate

1 : to supply with pictures or diagrams meant to explain or decorate illustrate a book
2 : to make clear by using examples She illustrated her point with stories.
3 : to serve as an example The results illustrate the need for planning.

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Comments on illustrate

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