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 Disparities in Covid-19 outcomes, particularly among people of color, illustrate why these social determinants cannot be ignored. WSJ, 31 July 2022 The images of Lake Mead – taken by Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 – illustrate how the largest reservoir in the United States has been losing water, a trend that its seen for the last 22 years. Christopher Brito, CBS News, 21 July 2022 The trip would illustrate how closely tied politics and business were in Russia, with Kalanick often sharing a table with corporate leaders and top government officials. Ian Duncan, Washington Post, 11 July 2022 From your perspective, how does Lalo’s death illustrate both his strengths as an adversary, but then also his fatal flaw? Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 July 2022 Forming a business unit devoted entirely to driving and implementing organizational agility will not only illustrate leadership’s commitment to change, but also provide structure to the initiative. Milan Dordevic, Forbes, 30 June 2022 These events illustrate the high stakes of incarceration for pregnant people, particularly for women of color in jails and prisons, who will be the most likely to be affected. Char Adams, NBC News, 29 June 2022 But the wins by Britt, Allen and Sorrell could illustrate a significant generational shift in Alabama Republican politics where a future guard is emerging. al, 26 June 2022 That sort of delay and deflection help illustrate why founders of the country were dubious of political parties. Los Angeles Times, 10 June 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

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Illustrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 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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