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

Definition of illustration

1 : something that serves to illustrate: such as
a : a picture or diagram that helps make something clear or attractive
b : an example or instance that helps make something clear
2a : the action of illustrating : the condition of being illustrated
b archaic : the action of making illustrious or honored or distinguished

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Other Words from illustration

illustrational \ ˌi-​lə-​ˈstrā-​shnəl How to pronounce illustration (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl also  i-​ˌlə-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for illustration


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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 His case is a grim illustration of the extreme efforts health care providers sometimes need to defeat COVID-19. oregonlive, "Public health workers soldier on through unprecedented pandemic: Health Care Heroes 2021," 8 May 2021 These books weave together text, illustration, photography, and archival items to enrich first-person narratives and explorations of the self. Tori Latham, The Atlantic, "The Books Briefing: Why the Graphic-Novel Format Can Be Perfect for Memoirists," 7 May 2021 Jones told The Mary Suethat she was inspired by the illustration style of classic mid-century advertising, as well as the paintings of Norman Rockwell. Bethy Squires, Vulture, "Blake Lively Set to Pull a Real Blake Lively in Lady Killer," 5 May 2021 Most of all there were words, and more words, often inscribed in sentence form at the edges of his work to complement a drawing style that is itself rooted in vernacular forms: comics, road maps and children’s book illustration. New York Times, "William T. Wiley, ‘Funk Artist’ Who Spurned Convention, Dies at 83," 5 May 2021 This claim is accompanied by a photo of a Nirvana shirt boasting the illustration with a copyright notice dated 2020. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, "Nirvana Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Use of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ Illustration," 4 May 2021 The school itself will be open to students in grades 6-12 and will focus on vocal and instrumental music, music production, theater, technical theater, visual arts, animation, illustration and dance. Suzanne Baker,, "Academy of the Arts seeking Naperville location for its new full-time school, which could open by 2025," 4 May 2021 And her use of a five-column social media bans illustration works very well on the page. Dallas News, "Student journalists win 30th annual Dallas Morning News awards for pandemic, social justice reporting," 4 May 2021 In one sense, Jenner’s remarks, and, moreover, the reaction to them, is the latest illustration of how transgenderism has become a stark fault line in American politics. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Caitlyn Jenner Is Right About Transgender Athletes," 3 May 2021

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 2a

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Time Traveler for illustration

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for illustration

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Illustration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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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