il·​lus·​trate | \ ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt How to pronounce illustrate (audio) also i-ˈlə- \
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
a : enlighten
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

Other Words from illustrate

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

Synonyms for illustrate


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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.
Recent Examples on the Web Erwich has first-hand knowledge of his programming’s digital performance that could illustrate which shows truly breakout on streaming. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 May 2022 One big mural depicts Bob Marley and others illustrate breadfruit, soursop, and other Jamaican foods. Rand Richards Cooper, Hartford Courant, 2 May 2022 For me, this year’s Vinitaly was bookended by two such grand tastings, both of which illustrate the promise and the challenge for the future of Italian wine. Cathy Huyghe, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2022 Even without the app, strategically placed interpretive signs illustrate key points of interest such as the Agave Heritage Garden and an overview of the Desert Laboratory complex. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 11 Apr. 2022 Putin is the embodiment of a lifetime of such conditioning whose actions illustrate a firm belief in the more grotesque and literal sayings from Sun Tzu and Machiavelli that the ends justify the means. Douglas London, CNN, 11 Apr. 2022 Reader witzar came up with a brilliant 21-slice solution consisting of three z-ladders of lengths 5, 7 and 9 slices that illustrate these insights nicely. Quanta Magazine, 8 Apr. 2022 And while the professor at the lectern will rightly illustrate the specifics—pardons and clemencies, declarations of war, and peace negotiations —there’s often one crucial role that gets missed: historian. Philip Elliott, Time, 5 Apr. 2022 Designed by Miami architect Rene Gonzalez, known for contemporary structures that illustrate the connection between nature and architecture, the three-bedroom home showcases modern design with a harmonious connection to the environment. Robyn A. Friedman,, 24 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Illustrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for illustrate


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on illustrate

Nglish: Translation of illustrate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of illustrate for Arabic Speakers


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