lu·​mi·​nary | \ ˈlü-mə-ˌner-ē \
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


sphere, star, sun

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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 Hedy Lamarr Story opens with an archival photo of the glamorous Golden Age star at a nightclub table ringed with Hollywood luminaries. Gary Thompson,, "'Bombshell': The true story of the Hollywood legend who invented wifi," 7 Mar. 2018 Follow live updates from the conference as the leaders and luminaries from the worlds of tech, entertainment and media discuss our digital future. Jay Greene, WSJ, "Steve Ballmer’s Bid for an Educated Citizenry," 12 Nov. 2018 Standing in the center of the room puts you squarely under the power of the 72 solar luminaries embedded in the ceiling, with a chamber that can produce 1,100 watts per square meter. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Futuristic Labs That Forge Gore-Tex," 28 Nov. 2016 Because They All Made Mistakes by Roy Berendsohn, PM Senior Home Editor George Westinghouse has as spotless a reputation as any luminary in American history. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "In Defense of Elon Musk," 16 Oct. 2018 To name-drop but a few: In 1963, Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward moved into this home, hosting several art-world luminaries—Andy Warhol bunked here for a time—and celebrities like Jane Fonda and Tina Turner. Kathryn O'shea-evans, House Beautiful, "This Is, Without A Doubt, The Sexiest Kitchen Ever," 8 Aug. 2018 Light up your lawn and walkway with one or several of these festive lanterns or luminary bags. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Home Depot's New Hauntingly Cool Halloween Decorations Are Here," 7 Aug. 2018 Attached to stage the Jackson show is ballet luminary Christopher Wheeldon, who made his debut as a musical-theater director-choreographer with the 2015 Broadway production of An American in Paris. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "Michael Jackson Musical in the Works for Broadway," 19 June 2018 Ronaldo has been espoused as the best by countless soccer luminaries around the world. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Be careful how you answer," 14 June 2018

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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Statistics for luminary

Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for luminary

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

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More Definitions for luminary



English Language Learners Definition of luminary

: a very famous or successful person

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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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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