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 illustrational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl also  i-​ˌlə-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for illustration


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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 60 initial grant recipients, who are listed on the Spaces website, make everything from illustrations to performance art. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Spaces announces 50 new emergency relief grants up to $1,000 each for artists hurt by coronavirus pandemic," 18 May 2020 Parenting is the ultimate slow-motion illustration of this lesson. Will Johnson, Washington Post, "Parenting through a pandemic: What a CEO has learned while working from home," 15 May 2020 The clearest illustration of that came on Friday, when the government reported that 20.5 million people lost their jobs in April. Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica, "The Bailout Is Working — For the Rich," 10 May 2020 The idea of flattening the curve was good, but the illustration being published or retweeted had no real numbers to represent the capacity of our hospitals. Esther Landhuis, Popular Mechanics, "These Data Science Wizards Tell Us What's Really Happening With Coronavirus," 28 Apr. 2020 The illustrations of these ecological tragedies are foreboding but oddly serene, and the message is simple: don’t litter, recycle, plant trees. The Editors, Outside Online, "Our 12 Favorite Earth Day Reads," 22 Apr. 2020 Now, in the latest episode of the series, Parton read her own picture book, Coat of Many Colors, inspired by her eponymous song, which features the illustrations by Brooke Boynton Hughes. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Coat of Many Colors," 14 Apr. 2020 The doughnut model also visualizes where which goals are not being met or haven’t been set yet, shown in the above illustration in red and gray, respectively. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "The Dutch want to make big economic reforms with a doughnut," 9 Apr. 2020 Walgreens has thermometers Galison 500-piece jigsaw puzzle: The watercolor illustration by artist Margaret Berg depicts feathers of birds from around the world. Janet Eastman | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Mini spy cameras and other curious items are top online sellers during the coronavirus crisis," 30 Mar. 2020

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

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Illustration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for illustration


How to pronounce illustration (audio)

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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