il·​lus·​trate | \ ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt How to pronounce illustrate (audio) also i-ˈlə- \
illustrated; illustrating

Definition of illustrate

transitive verb

1a : to provide with visual features intended to explain or decorate illustrate a book
b : to make clear by giving or by serving as an example or instance
c : to make clear : clarify
2 : to show clearly : demonstrate
3 obsolete
b : to light up
4a archaic : to make illustrious
b obsolete
(1) : to make bright
(2) : adorn

intransitive verb

: to give an example or instance

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Other Words from illustrate

illustrator \ ˈi-​lə-​ˌstrā-​tər How to pronounce illustrator (audio) also  i-​ˈlə-​ \ noun

Examples of illustrate in a Sentence

He illustrated his lecture with stories of his own experiences in the field. Please give a few examples to illustrate your point. The results illustrate how important it is to wear your seatbelt. The students will write and illustrate their own stories.
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Recent Examples on the Web The estimates help to illustrate that the death toll attributed to COVID-19 understates how many are actually dying from the disease. Hope Yen, Star Tribune, "AP FACT CHECK: Trump's falsehoods on virus, taxes and Bidens," 18 Oct. 2020 The goal is to illustrate how much hotter the inside of a car gets even when outside temperatures are tolerable. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "SUNDAY CONVERSATION: Community risk reduction chief discusses safety programs," 18 Oct. 2020 Perhaps no disease can help illustrate this point better than plague, the single most deadly infectious disease in human history. Nükhet Varlik, The Conversation, "How do pandemics end? History suggests diseases fade but are almost never truly gone," 14 Oct. 2020 Jackson cited job losses to illustrate that Cleveland and the surrounding area were hit harder than other urban centers. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Coronavirus pandemic put spotlight on institutionalized disparities that must be addressed, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says," 9 Oct. 2020 Farm Aid’s videos of family farmers help illustrate the organization’s intersecting causes of sustainable food, economic recovery from the pandemic, and the call for racial justice. Thom Duffy, Billboard, "In 35th Farm Aid Preview, Brandi Carlile Tours Her Garden & Chris Vos Gets Emotional About His Farming Family: Exclusive," 24 Sep. 2020 To illustrate just how impactful the moisture deficit is, right now, as unprecedented wildfires burn out of control, the deficit is at record low levels in the majority of the Western U.S. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "Wildfires and weather extremes: It's not coincidence, it's climate change," 17 Sep. 2020 The small-time quibbles with Clemson’s performance illustrate the difficulty in finding early missteps. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Clemson's rout of Wake Forest shows it's safe bet to reach College Football Playoff again," 13 Sep. 2020 No Trump-supporting, independent, or conservative-leaning characters appear except as foils to help illustrate the narrow-mindedness of the main subjects. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Dangerous Naïveté of Coastal Elites," 12 Sep. 2020

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

1526, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

History and Etymology for illustrate

Latin illustratus, past participle of illustrare, from in- + lustrare to purify, make bright — more at luster

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Time Traveler for illustrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of illustrate was in 1526

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Statistics for illustrate

Last Updated

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Illustrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for illustrate


How to pronounce illustrate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of illustrate

: to give examples in order to make (something) easier to understand
: to be proof or evidence of (something)
: to explain or decorate a story, book, etc., with pictures


il·​lus·​trate | \ ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt How to pronounce illustrate (audio) \
illustrated; illustrating

Kids Definition of illustrate

1 : to supply with pictures or diagrams meant to explain or decorate illustrate a book
2 : to make clear by using examples She illustrated her point with stories.
3 : to serve as an example The results illustrate the need for planning.

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Comments on illustrate

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