il·lus·tri·ous | \i-ˈlə-strē-əs \

Definition of illustrious 

1 : notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions : eminent

2 archaic

a : shining brightly with light

b : clearly evident

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Other Words from illustrious

illustriously adverb
illustriousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for illustrious

famous, renowned, celebrated, noted, notorious, distinguished, eminent, illustrious mean known far and wide. famous implies little more than the fact of being, sometimes briefly, widely and popularly known. a famous actress renowned implies more glory and acclamation. one of the most renowned figures in sports history celebrated implies notice and attention especially in print. the most celebrated beauty of her day noted suggests well-deserved public attention. the noted mystery writer notorious frequently adds to famous an implication of questionableness or evil. a notorious gangster distinguished implies acknowledged excellence or superiority. a distinguished scientist who won the Nobel Prize eminent implies even greater prominence for outstanding quality or character. the country's most eminent writers illustrious stresses enduring honor and glory attached to a deed or person. illustrious war heroes

Did You Know?

Illustrious people seem to light up everything around them. The etymology of illustrious makes it clear that a shining glow (both literal and figurative) has long been associated with the word. "Illustrious" ultimately derives from the Latin verb lustrare, which means "to purify" or "to make bright," and which is related to the noun that gave us "luster." At one time, "illustrious" was used in the literal sense of "shining brightly with light," but that meaning is now considered archaic. The word is now almost exclusively used in its figurative application to describe something that stands out brilliantly, much like a bright star stands out in the sky.

Examples of illustrious in a Sentence

He has had an illustrious military career. an illustrious physicist who is a sure bet for a Nobel Prize

Recent Examples on the Web

Cristiano Ronaldo will embark upon a new chapter in his illustrious career this season after joining Juventus in a €100m deal., "Cristiano Ronaldo's Incredible List of Records Set While at Real Madrid," 11 July 2018 Robert drew up an illustrious guest list and organized an elaborate ceremony that involved an exchange of vows and even a brief kiss between the children. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018 After closing out her illustrious coaching career at Garrison Forest, Cindy Halle marked her first year of retirement with one of U.S. polo’s most prestigious awards. Katherine Fominykh,, "Former Garrison Forrest coach Cindy Halle wins national polo award," 6 July 2018 The midfield is again dominated by members of that illustrious team and largely picks itself, with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo all included., "Best Ever: Manchester United Fans Name Their Greatest Premier League XI Following Fan Vote," 13 June 2018 Ray Wilkins, an elegant midfielder who captained England’s national soccer team and played for illustrious teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea and AC Milan in a 24-year career, died Wednesday. Steve Douglas,, "Former England captain Wilkins dies at 61," 4 Apr. 2018 Decked out in white for their vow renewal in OTR II videos -- and the twins surface again The OTR II tour kicked off in Cardiff, Wales, on June 6 and Beyoncé and JAY-Z entertained with an exciting selection of hits from their illustrious catalogs. Shanté Honeycutt, Billboard, "11 Rare Glimpses Into Beyonce & JAY-Z's Private Life," 11 June 2018 Actor Christopher Lloyd has had an illustrious career that spans over four decades and more than 200 roles. Laura Latzko, azcentral, "A night with Christopher Lloyd of 'Back to the Future,' plus more fun events this weekend," 10 July 2018 The 37-year-old's height and aerial prowess will pose a unique challenge to opponents and, in his long and illustrious career, Crouch has proven himself a proficient goalscorer at the highest level - managing more than 100 top flight goals., "Stoke Player Reveals He Has ‘Unfinished Business’ With Club & Will Remain in Championship With Team," 8 July 2018

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

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for illustrious

Latin illustris, probably from illustrare

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2018

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The first known use of illustrious was in 1588

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More Definitions for illustrious



English Language Learners Definition of illustrious

: admired and respected very much because a lot was achieved


il·lus·tri·ous | \i-ˈlə-strē-əs \

Kids Definition of illustrious

: admired and respected because of greatness or achievement

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Comments on illustrious

What made you want to look up illustrious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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