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

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 derives from the Latin illustris, which was probably a back-formation of the verb illustrare ("to illustrate"), which in turn comes from lustrare, meaning "to purify" or "to make bright," and which is related to the Latin noun lustrum 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 today 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 Winter Springs senior Caroline Wells looks to complete her illustrious Florida high school running career with two more state championships this week. Buddy Collings, Orlando Sentinel, 10 May 2022 After a video montage that recapped her illustrious career, D’Alessio took the stage to thank her fans and her family. Griselda Flores, Billboard, 21 Apr. 2022 The untitled Amazon film is based on the true story of Vaccarro's efforts to strike a shoe deal with Jordan amid the athlete's illustrious NBA career. Abigail Adams,, 20 Apr. 2022 And in true retirement fashion, Yankee shares the mic with his illustrious predecessors including Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro and celebrated collaborators like Tainy, Pitbull and more. Thania Garcia, Variety, 29 Mar. 2022 Liveright, 350 pages, $30 Undaunted, Mr. Strevens promises his readers a better explanation of scientific progress than those given by his two illustrious predecessors, Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. Christoph Irmscher, WSJ, 18 Dec. 2020 The meet-cutes were brokered not with the help of a mentor at school or an illustrious summer job but thanks to Alcindor’s hairdresser. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, 4 Dec. 2020 The talented guard scored 30 points in the state final to cap off a 27-1 season and an illustrious prep career. James Boyd, The Indianapolis Star, 27 Apr. 2022 The story of the most memorable race of Natalie Nalepa’s illustrious running career begins with her sipping from a steaming bowl of a homemade remedy. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, 21 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of illustrious

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for illustrious

Latin illustris, probably from illustrare

Learn More About illustrious

Time Traveler for illustrious

Time Traveler

The first known use of illustrious was in 1588

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About illustrious

Dictionary Entries Near illustrious




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for illustrious

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Illustrious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for illustrious


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

More from Merriam-Webster on illustrious

Nglish: Translation of illustrious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of illustrious for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!