il·​lus·​tra·​tion ˌi-lə-ˈstrā-shən How to pronounce illustration (audio)
 also  i-ˌlə-
: something that serves to illustrate: such as
: a picture or diagram that helps make something clear or attractive
: an example or instance that helps make something clear
: the action of illustrating : the condition of being illustrated
archaic : the action of making illustrious or honored or distinguished
ˌi-lə-ˈstrā-sh(ə-)nəl How to pronounce illustration (audio)
 also  i-ˌlə-
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Filled with vibrant illustrations, this is a great book for kids to read alongside seeing The Little Mermaid live-action film in 2023. Jennifer Vassel, Parents, 27 Nov. 2023 To the left of the fireplace are illustrations of Paris street scenes that were owned by Birney’s grandmother. Adriane Quinlan, Curbed, 22 Nov. 2023 An illustration depicted what looked like a galleon topped by horizontal sheets. John Kelly, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2023 Enlarge / Artist's illustration of two Starships docked belly-to-belly in orbit. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 17 Nov. 2023 The fight over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals provides an illustration. Jonathan Swan, New York Times, 11 Nov. 2023 After all, these stunning illustrations are meant to educate. Alison Klesman, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2023 Their arguments manifest in illustrations that sanctified the human doctor by setting him parallel to Christ. Meg Leja, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Nov. 2023 Perhaps the best illustration of the racing watch’s continued vitality is the new Daytona Le Mans. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 14 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'illustration.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

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

Dictionary Entries Near illustration

Cite this Entry

“Illustration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


il·​lus·​tra·​tion ˌil-əs-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce illustration (audio)
: the action of illustrating : the condition of being illustrated
: an example or instance used to make something clear
: a picture or diagram that explains or decorates

More from Merriam-Webster on illustration

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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