illustrate

verb
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

Synonyms for illustrate

Synonyms

demonstrate, exemplify, instance

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said the HBO blackout on Dish illustrates the problems with the merger and media consolidation in general. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "AT&T—owner of HBO and DirecTV—lets HBO go dark on Dish in money fight," 1 Nov. 2018 As Armenian symbolic anthropologist Levon Abrahamian explains, sigils on ancient figurines illustrate that people from the region revered the image of the tree long before the crystallization of a coherent Armenian national identity. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "Armenia’s “Tree of Life” Tradition Took Root Thousands of Years Ago, and Has Only Grown Since," 12 July 2018 Today’s events illustrate the same divisions in our country that the series has confronted head-on. Katy Bergen, kansascity, "KU flag removal ‘smacks of censorship’: ACLU, free speech advocates defend art piece," 12 July 2018 Eden explains that the image illustrates the white matter pathways in the brain. Lisa Wood Shapiro, WIRED, "The End of Dyslexia," 18 June 2018 The photos were identified as such but wrongly described online as illustrating imprisonment under Trump. Jewel Wicker, Teen Vogue, "Report Claims Trump Administration Is Still Separating Families at the Border," 28 Nov. 2018 As Jonas's post illustrates, diabetes is a complex condition and often isn't straightforward to diagnose or manage. Korin Miller, SELF, "The Diabetes Symptom That Finally Helped Nick Jonas Get a Diagnosis," 19 Nov. 2018 Fighter jets and 21st-century burgers As Wilson's anecdote illustrates, where there are fans, there's often tribalism. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Open mind, wide open throttle: We go to our first NASCAR race," 15 Nov. 2018 The self-dealing at the heart of this arrangement was best illustrated by Robert Trump, whose father paid him a $500,000 annual salary. Susanne Craig, The Seattle Times, "Trump engaged in suspect tax schemes as he reaped riches from father," 2 Oct. 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

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illustrate

The first known use of illustrate was in 1526

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More Definitions for illustrate

illustrate

verb

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

illustrate

verb
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).

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to gather or build up little by little

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