il·​lus·​trate | \ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt 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

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Other Words from illustrate

illustrator \ ˈi-​lə-​ˌstrā-​tər 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

Aside from showing the importance of who does and does not get confirmed for the Supreme Court, the decision illustrates the weakness of federal voting rights laws. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Supreme Court Opens Door to More Red-State Voter Purges," 11 June 2018 Democrats say the long-standing staffing issues illustrate Walker's lack of long-term strategy for the state's corrections system. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP leaders say wage increases not on table despite Wisconsin prison overtime costs, staffing shortage," 12 July 2018 The trial also illustrated the need for the country’s security agencies to consider far-right ties in relation to cases of violence, John said. Erik Kirschbaum,, "German Neo-Nazi found guilty of murder in execution-style slayings of migrants," 11 July 2018 Gowen said that and other security concerns that led to the loss of Awan’s access to the House network illustrated a culture of ‘‘disorganization’’ in Congress rather than espionage. Washington Post,, "Ex-congressional IT staffer’s plea deal debunks conspiracy theories Trump, others promoted," 4 July 2018 The effort illustrates how the EDG can bring together the components needed to provide a one-stop-shop for a business seeking to learn what might be needed to locate in Elgin and what the city might have to offer, Gieske said. Mike Danahey, Elgin Courier-News, "iHerb holding job fair to hire for large distribution center opening in Elgin," 20 June 2018 The video, obtained by the Miami Herald, illustrates the difficulty of dealing with mentally ill people in public spaces, police say. David Ovalle And Charles Rabin, miamiherald, "'Get on the ground, bro!' Video shows repeated Tasers failed to stop Wendy's intruder," 7 June 2018 Artists Kevin Budnik and Sage Coffey illustrate the event. Hannah Steinkopf-frank, RedEye Chicago, "Celebrate Chicago Pride all June at these events," 7 June 2018 The attorney representing University of Louisville basketball fans in a lawsuit against the NCAA said the school's reluctance to remain a party to the suit illustrates the board of trustees’ hostility toward fans. Chris White, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville board of trustees hostile to fans, says attorney suing NCAA," 2 June 2018

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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Statistics for illustrate

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illustrate

The first known use of illustrate was in 1526

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More Definitions for illustrate



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 \
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

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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