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 numbers illustrate that there’s no shortage of talent within the halls at Hingham High. Jenna Ciccotelli,, "2018-19 Globe Scholastic Awards: Hingham athletics developing a legacy of success," 1 Sep. 2019 The strikes illustrate how David-and-Goliath tactics using cheap drones are adding a new layer of volatility to the Middle East. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Two Major Saudi Oil Installations Hit by Drone Strike, and U.S. Blames Iran," 14 Sep. 2019 Two of the charts that Saez and Zucman’s presented illustrate these traits. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Growing Debate Over Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax," 12 Sep. 2019 Thursday night will almost certainly illustrate how different Warren and Biden are. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: What to look for in Thursday's Democratic debate," 11 Sep. 2019 The proposals illustrate the influence of black voters in the primary and reflect Democrats' refusal to cede any ground with them to President Donald Trump, who has also sought to highlight his efforts to change the justice system. Elana Schor,, "Every top Democratic candidate for president wants to change criminal justice laws. Here’s how they would do it.," 10 Sep. 2019 But put politics aside: Their situations illustrate just what’s at stake for our local economy in these trade wars. Jon Chesto,, "Escalating trade war hits home for many local businesses," 5 Sep. 2019 Previously unreleased documents reviewed by Bloomberg illustrate the companies’ acute concern that their drivers not abandon their platforms. Josh Eidelson, Fortune, "Uber and Lyft Say Their Drivers’ Names Are ‘Trade Secrets,’ and Chicago City Officials Agreed," 3 Sep. 2019 Taken together, the decisions illustrate the company's evolution away from its image as a drugstore. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "How quitting tobacco reshaped CVS: Q&A with CEO Larry Merlo," 3 Sep. 2019

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

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for illustrate

The first known use of illustrate was in 1526

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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

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


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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