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

Dempsey managed his goals in 141 caps during a 13-year career, before announcing his retirement from his illustrious international career in 2017., "The Top 50 International Goalscorers of All Time," 18 July 2019 The Hall of Fame center played for the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics during his illustrious 19-year career. Dana Scott, azcentral, "Shaquille O'Neal says he wouldn't join a super team in today's NBA," 17 July 2019 An illustrious career Whitaker, a southpaw known for his defensive prowess, grew up in Norfolk. Jill Martin, CNN, "Legendary boxer Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker dies after he's hit by a vehicle," 15 July 2019 In a career filled with Mid-Suburban East titles and a strong track record of playoff success, Fendley still hasn’t forgotten the one losing season in her illustrious career. Bob Narang,, "Hersey coach Mary Fendley excited to lead latest group of dedicated Huskies," 14 July 2019 Ford has an illustrious music career, spanning back to a debut single in 1999, which was quickly followed by a stint as opener for the Backstreet Boys on their 2000 tour. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "How Flip It Like Disick Star Willa Ford Went from Pop Star to Interior Designer," 8 July 2019 And, despite the illustrious history of the men’s team at the World Cup, the closest that the women had ever got to the title was as runners-up, in 2007. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "World Cup 2019: There’s Not Going to Be a Marta Forever," 24 June 2019 Close, 72, has racked up three Primetime Emmy Awards, three Tony Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and seven Oscar nominations during her illustrious career dating back to the 1970s. Jack Flemming,, "Actress Glenn Close brings bucolic New York farmhouse to market," 18 June 2019 Among his players, there was a strand of concern that his illustrious playing career with Manchester United, Everton and England — as well as his coaching stints at Old Trafford and Valencia — might translate into superciliousness. New York Times, "Phil Neville Had to Win Over England. Can England Now Win for Him?," 18 June 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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Statistics for illustrious

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for illustrious

The first known use of illustrious was in 1588

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More Definitions for illustrious



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).


something desired as essential

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