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

The first concern is illustrated by how few locally owned, non-state firms can compete with foreign ones. The Economist, "Central Europe’s Goldilocks economies," 5 July 2018 Mary GrandPre, who illustrated the original book jackets, based her drawing of bespectacled Harry on herself. USA TODAY, "On the 20th U.S. anniversary of Harry Potter, 20 fun facts about the beloved boy wizard," 25 June 2018 Still, not all religions or religious people hold these beliefs, which Justin clearly illustrated. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber Invited a Queer Fan to His Church," 12 June 2018 Portion of gate and sign of Paul J. Wines to illustrate use of recycled materials. Mike Dunne, sacbee, "Shenandoah Valley’s newest winery Paul J. Wines recognizes the old," 4 July 2018 Growth was consistent, Lahey said, his arm darting out to illustrate the incline. Alison Kuznitz,, "A Visionary Leader, President John Lahey Casts His Final Shadow On Quinnipiac University," 2 July 2018 His 2017 EP, Harmony of Difference, used varying versions of one melody to illustrate multiculturalism. Megan Buerger, Billboard, "Kamasi Washington Talks New Double Album and Why 'No Door Is Closed' After Working With Kendrick Lamar," 29 June 2018 Residents submitted over 180 signatures to the council to illustrate opposition to the project. Mikaela Porter, Courant Community, "West Hartford: New Britain Ave, Berkshire Road Neighbors Oppose Apartment Complex; Mayor Postpones Vote," 27 June 2018 Modern Armenian art often subverts medieval forms to illustrate the annihilating effect of the bloodshed. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "Unfurling the Rich Tapestry of Armenian Culture," 25 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

11 Oct 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).


to reject or criticize sharply

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