il·​lus·​tri·​ous | \ i-ˈlə-strē-əs How to pronounce illustrious (audio) \

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 One of the most influential (and notably charming) editors in Hollywood, Alan Heim has carved an illustrious career, including his partnership with Bob Fosse that saw him win an Oscar for 1979's All That Jazz, Fosse's semiautobiographical musical. Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter, "'All That Jazz' Editor Alan Heim: Working With Bob Fosse Was "Always an Adventure"," 17 Jan. 2020 Just revisit the next several outfits from Audrey Hepburn's illustrious career for proof. Whitney Perry, Glamour, "These Audrey Hepburn Style Moments Are Simply Timeless," 15 Jan. 2020 Antonio Banderas, 59, and Jonathan Pryce, 72, have both had long and illustrious careers, but both got their first Oscar nominations Monday. Washington Post, "ScarJo and Erivo go for 2, and other Oscar facts and figures," 13 Jan. 2020 Over the course of her illustrious career, Mariah Carey has broken a number of Billboard chart records. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Mariah Carey Celebrates Her Funniest Billboard Hot 100 Record: 'Worth It'," 6 Jan. 2020 Brady’s illustrious 20-year career is highlighted with nine Super Bowl appearances, six Super Bowl titles, nine AFC championships and three NFL Most Valuable Player awards. oregonlive, "Tom Brady focused on Wild Card playoff, not possible final game with the New England Patriots," 3 Jan. 2020 Zimmerman, 46, had an illustrious career as one of the top U.S. pairs skaters in decades. Christine Brennan, USA TODAY, "Olympic figure skater accused of sexual abuse apologized to girl's mother," 30 Dec. 2019 For those not aware of Penn's illustrious acting career, the star once played Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "The Best Social Media Comparisons Between Penn Badgley's Characters on "You" And "Gossip Girl"," 27 Dec. 2019 Tarantina also had an illustrious career on Broadway and in film. NBC News, "'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' actor Brian Tarantina died of accidental overdose, according to medical examiner," 17 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for illustrious

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The first known use of illustrious was in 1588

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Illustrious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for illustrious


How to pronounce illustrious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of illustrious

formal : admired and respected very much because a lot was achieved


il·​lus·​tri·​ous | \ i-ˈlə-strē-əs How to pronounce illustrious (audio) \

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).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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