il·​lus·​tra·​tion | \ ˌi-lə-ˈstrā-shən also i-ˌlə- How to pronounce illustration (audio) \

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 How to pronounce illustrational (audio) , -​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

Fashion was a strange 30-year accident on the path onward to my deepest dreams ever: art, images, and opera, ballet theater, illustrations etc. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Talking With @fkachristianlacroix, aka the Real Christian Lacroix, About Instagram and the 1980s," 13 Mar. 2019 Delicate black-and-white illustrations and silhouettes by Sarah Gibb hark back to traditional tellings of these tales, reminding us of their roots in the Black Forest. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Tales Well Worth Repeating," 15 Feb. 2019 By their nature, zines are made up of stories, photos, comics and illustrations not typically published in mainstream media. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The largest independent LGBTQ zine collection is stored in a Riverwest basement, and you can see some of it online," 9 July 2018 John Legend and Chrissy Teigen spoke to the crowd in L.A. And at every rally, in every city, marchers brought signs that iterated their demands for reform in poignant ways—through slogans, illustrations, and more. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "The Most Powerful Signs From the 'Families Belong Together' Marches," 30 June 2018 Over 65 local Alameda and Bay Area artists; live painting, sketching sculpting and illustration; demonstrations; open studios; live music; food and drink; art cars; and more. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun., July 1., "Events listings," 28 June 2018 Botanical illustration and crafting workshop, native plant keying and botany workshop. Corey Sheldon,, "HG calendar May 26-June 3: garden tours aplenty," 25 May 2018 Tuesday’s selection included an illustration of a man’s head shooting off into space, a pencil pouch made of a taxidermy squirrel, and McDonald’s fries photoshopped to look like they’d been covered in Swarovski crystals. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "How One Honolulu-Based Artist Gets Dressed to Work in Paradise," 7 Mar. 2019 One of the letter holders includes an illustration of Juice, a black sheep who lives on the Brooks’s family farm. Jo Rodgers, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Magpie Makings of Amanda Brooks’s New Cotswolds Shop," 18 July 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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Statistics for illustration

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

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



English Language Learners Definition of illustration

: a picture or drawing in a book, magazine, etc.
: an example or story that is used to make something easier to understand
: the act or process of producing or providing pictures for a book, magazine, etc.


il·​lus·​tra·​tion | \ ˌi-lə-ˈstrā-shən How to pronounce illustration (audio) \

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).


an act or instance of returning to life

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