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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from luminary

luminary adjective

Synonyms for luminary


sphere, star, sun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Three local luminaries — a prominent culinary power couple and a multi-talented powerhouse of prose — will be honored at the 2019 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show on Sept. 15-16. Amy Drew Thompson,, "McPherson, Petrakises to be honored at Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show," 12 Sep. 2019 The lineup is yet to be announced, but attendees can count on music from Day Zero boss Lazarus, along with other luminaries of the dance world underground. Katie Bain, Billboard, "Day Zero Announces Return to Tulum in January 2020," 10 Sep. 2019 Kendall will be joined by Antonio Amadeo as Mitch and directed by another local luminary, Billie McBride. Lisa Kennedy, The Know, "From Steve Martin’s “Bright Star” to Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things,” 10 must-see fall plays in Colorado," 8 Sep. 2019 Belkin spent time backstage with music luminaries such as Bruce Springsteen and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour., "Author, insider describes backstage rock ‘n’ roll experiences at Middleburg Heights Library," 31 Aug. 2019 James is upset because his video platform Uninterrupted features a show called The Shop that includes James kibitzing with fellow sports luminaries. Andy Staples,, "Nick Saban, LeBron James Are Battling for Second When It Comes to Barbershop Content," 4 Apr. 2018 There is a growing pattern of tech luminaries posing as open to concerns and then swiftly dismissing them. Alexis Papazoglou, WIRED, "Silicon Valley's Secret Philosophers Should Share Their Work," 27 Aug. 2019 However, an obituary is a good place to begin talking about the end, especially those of public luminaries. Harish C Menon, Quartz India, "By only praising the dead politician, you are being the worst kind of fake," 26 Aug. 2019 Through fashion and flowers, Steichen presents portraits of the cultural luminaries of the day: actors, writers, dancers and singers of the early 1920s in intimate black-and-white photography, along with that mural. Matthew J. Palm,, "Orlando Arts Season Preview 2019-20: Best Bets," 23 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about luminary

Listen to Our Podcast about luminary

Dictionary Entries near luminary








Statistics for luminary

Last Updated

20 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for luminary

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for luminary



English Language Learners Definition of luminary

: a very famous or successful person

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on luminary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with luminary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for luminary

Spanish Central: Translation of luminary

Nglish: Translation of luminary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of luminary for Arabic Speakers

Comments on luminary

What made you want to look up luminary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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