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

While the victors may continue illustrious careers in leadership, the losers do not necessarily disappear from view. Matthew Green, Vox, "Election Day is over. Now who will lead Congress?," 12 Nov. 2018 From pop experts Bradley Stern and T. Kyle MacMahon comes this new Britney Spears–centric podcast, each episode celebrating a year in the pop star's illustrious career. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "9 TV Shows and Movies to Watch to Get Your November Started Right," 4 Nov. 2018 The original 935 was a 911-based racer that first appeared in 1976 and went on to have an illustrious career in the late 1970s. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Porsche debuts new $800,000 racer inspired by the iconic 935 Le Mans car," 28 Sep. 2018 Winning the Europa League is now Arsenal's only realistic way of Wenger bequeathing his successor a place next season in the more illustrious Champions League. Jamie Goldberg,, "Barcelona vs. Sevilla in Copa del Rey final: Live updates, TV channel, how to watch live online," 21 Apr. 2018 Winning the Europa League is now Arsenal’s only realistic way of Wenger bequeathing his successor a place next season in the more illustrious Champions League. Washington Post, "Wenger stuns Arsenal players by quitting after 21 years," 20 Apr. 2018 Winning the Europa League is now Arsenal's only realistic way of Wenger bequeathing his successor a place next season in the more illustrious Champions League. Rob Harris,, "Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal after 21 years, ending the tenure of English soccer's longest-serving manager," 20 Apr. 2018 To primp the sagacity of their remarks, their illustrious pedigrees are paraded. Stephen Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Tech books by Billy Gallagher, Emily Chang, Chris Hughes, Andrew Keen," 2 Mar. 2018 Ronaldo is the 11th member of that illustrious, with just a single player winning more., "Only One Player in History Now Has More European Cup Titles Than Cristiano Ronaldo," 28 May 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

25 Nov 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).


a knickknack or trinket

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