il·​lus·​tra·​tion | \ˌi-lə-ˈstrā-shən also i-ˌlə- \

Definition of illustration 

1a : the action of illustrating : the condition of being illustrated

b archaic : the action of making illustrious or honored or distinguished

2 : something that serves to illustrate: such as

a : an example or instance that helps make something clear

b : a picture or diagram that helps make something clear or attractive

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Other Words from illustration

illustrational \ˌi-​lə-​ˈstrā-​shnəl, -​shə-​nᵊl also i-​ˌlə-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for illustration


diagram, figure, graphic, plate, visual

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Choose the Right Synonym for illustration

instance, case, illustration, example, sample, specimen mean something that exhibits distinguishing characteristics in its category. instance applies to any individual person, act, or thing that may be offered to illustrate or explain. an instance of history repeating itself case is used to direct attention to a real or assumed occurrence or situation that is to be considered, studied, or dealt with. a case of mistaken identity illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement. a telling illustration of Murphy's Law example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case. a typical example of bureaucratic waste sample implies a part or unit taken at random from a larger whole and so presumed to be typical of its qualities. show us a sample of your work specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available. one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art

Examples of illustration in a Sentence

The illustration on page 30 shows the parts of an engine. a book with many photographs and illustrations The illustrations that he provided in his speech were very effective. They selected photographs to use for the illustration of the book. Illustration is the key to good communication.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The all-star issue features a cover illustration by Roz Chast that shows a family of happy robots gathered Norman Rockwell-style around a Thanksgiving table. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Learning to love robots," 20 Nov. 2018 Elegant plate-style illustrations by co-curator Chris Wormell provide the visuals. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "What to Give: Children’s Books," 15 Nov. 2018 In addition to books about Mr. Alaïa’s work, a selection curated by Sozzani includes books on the history of fashion, exhibitions, and the artists Mr. Alaïa admired, as well as postcards made after illustrations by Gladys Perint Palmer. Vogue, "The Alaïa Museum Takes Shape—One Year After the Couturier’s Death, a Bookstore Opens at His Marais Flagship," 13 Nov. 2018 As an illustration of how interconnected all these various subsystems are, consider the following: switching among Eco, Normal, and Sport modes remaps the throttle, changes the transmission shift points, and can even tighten the steering. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "The 2019 Jetta review: A quintessentially American Volkswagen," 4 Oct. 2018 Follingstad’s case caught wide attention in the Bay Area as an illustration of the out-of-control housing market. Trisha Thadani,, "Supervisor moves to strengthen renter protections in San Francisco," 10 July 2018 Her story was one Ellen Fisher wanted this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA! Philadelphia) class to hear as an illustration of the importance of listening in business. Diane Mastrull,, "Why a bartender fluent in mojitos was a game-changer for Party Host Helpers," 12 Apr. 2018 Just as an illustration, from the FAA’s real-time map, here’s the (permanent) no-fly zone shown right over Disneyland. James Fallows, The Atlantic, "A Case Against Gun Control," 24 Feb. 2018 The contract lists pop concerts and celebrity parties as illustrations of where there is a reasonable expectation that media will be present. Michael Mccann,, "Derrick Rose's Adidas Contract: Breaking Down the Strange Terms," 6 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illustration.' 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 illustration

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illustration

The first known use of illustration was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for illustration


il·​lus·​tra·​tion | \ˌi-lə-ˈstrā-shən \

Kids Definition of illustration

1 : a picture or diagram that explains or decorates The dictionary has color illustrations.

2 : an example or instance used to make something clear The speech included illustrations of his successes.

3 : the action of illustrating : the condition of being illustrated He finished the illustration of the book.

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Comments on illustration

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


a nest or breeding place

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