lu·​mi·​nary | \ ˈlü-mə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce luminary (audio) \
plural luminaries

Definition of luminary

1 : a person of prominence or brilliant achievement a literary luminary a luminary in the medical profession
2 : a body that gives light especially : one of the celestial bodies skywatchers … will see one more bright luminary below Orion and Canis Major — Martin Ratcliffe

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Other Words from luminary

luminary adjective

Synonyms for luminary


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Did You Know?

Allow us to shed some light on "luminary." It came to English by way of Anglo-French and Late Latin, and it traces back to the Latin word lumen, meaning "light." Other "lumen" descendants in English include "illuminate" (to light up), "luminous" (emitting light) and "phillumenist" (one who collects matchbooks or matchbox labels). "Luminary" has been shining its light in English since the 15th century.

Examples of luminary in a Sentence

luminaries of the art world awed by the vast number of luminaries in the night sky
Recent Examples on the Web The show’s opening sketch did not feature an Oscar-winning actor dropping by to play a Biden cabinet member, or a comedy luminary like Steve Martin or Martin Short swinging in as a manic Trump supporter. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Saturday Night Live Is Over It," 31 Jan. 2021 To Deborah Blum, who is now the director of MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Program and a luminary in the field, Sharon has long been someone to look up to. Eric Boodman @ericboodman, STAT, "Sharon Begley, path-breaking science journalist who spun words into gold, dies at 64," 17 Jan. 2021 A century later, services were led by the Zionist luminary Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver. Larry Luxner,, "For West Virginia’s few Jews, the pandemic has offered silver linings," 30 Dec. 2020 Christina Crawford’s memoir about her horrific childhood as the daughter of Joan Crawford is adapted by the director Frank Perry (who’s also part of a quartet of screenwriters) into one of the finest bio-pics of a Hollywood luminary. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Twenty-five of the Best Films on Amazon Prime," 23 Dec. 2020 Lickliter also happened to be the grandson of Les Fox—a Hanover luminary. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "The Case of the NBA’s Most Stolen Play," 21 Dec. 2020 This is a creative way to wrap a gift, plus doubles as a second gift since doubles as a luminary. Kate Flynn, Sunset Magazine, "3 Easy, Sustainable, and Last-Minute-Friendly Gift Wrap Ideas," 21 Dec. 2020 Fortunately, that milieu resonated with Aparicio, a luminary of the flamenco world. Washington Post, "‘Dance in DC’ short films capture the city’s spirit of entrepreneurship," 19 Dec. 2020 Richards, a luminary who, with the original production of A Raisin in the Sun, became the first Black director to stage a Broadway play, emphasized dramaturgy. Abby Aguirre, Vogue, "The World According to Frances McDormand," 10 Dec. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for luminary

Middle English luminarye, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French luminaire light, luminary, from Late Latin luminaria, plural of luminare lamp, heavenly body, from Latin, window, from lumin-, lumen light; akin to Latin lucēre to shine — more at light

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Time Traveler for luminary

Time Traveler

The first known use of luminary was in the 15th century

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Statistics for luminary

Last Updated

16 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Luminary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for luminary



English Language Learners Definition of luminary

: a very famous or successful person

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