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

Other Words from luminary

luminary adjective

Synonyms for luminary


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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 Terry McAuliffe, President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and every other Democratic luminary showed up to campaign for McAuliffe and make the same pitch: Youngkin is a White supremacist Trump clone and so is anyone who votes for him. Scott Jennings, CNN, 3 Nov. 2021 The day after the new moon, Pluto will square the luminary, bringing along conflict, power struggles, and arguments, according to Stardust. Elizabeth Gulino,, 5 Oct. 2021 Every year, a luminary in the design world is honored, and this time, that starry individual was Wes Gordon, Carolina Herrera’s creative director. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 23 Sep. 2021 Alex Rodriguez was, predictably, notably absent, but every other Yankee luminary from the Jeter years got a shout out. Matthew Roberson,, 8 Sep. 2021 The Sun still shines in Virgo and Mars pushes on besides our burning luminary, lighting fires under our cauldrons and warming up those of us with serious burnout. Gala Mukomolova,, 12 Sep. 2021 The American version of the prize will have a rotating panel of judges, which in this first year includes Feathers, two small booksellers from elsewhere in the United States and local literary luminary Ben Fountain. Lauren Smart, Dallas News, 31 Aug. 2021 Although the latter went idle after 1956, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance continued strong and began inspiring related events which, like celestial bodies to the sun, were drawn into orbit around the greater luminary, Pebble. Viju Mathew, Robb Report, 19 Aug. 2021 On the other hand, there’s outspoken Americana luminary Jason Isbell, who on Aug. 9 took a bold and then-lonely stand that fans would have to show proof of vaccination to get into any of his shows, effective immediately. Chris Willman, Variety, 19 Aug. 2021

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

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Luminary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for luminary



English Language Learners Definition of luminary

: a very famous or successful person : celebrity

More from Merriam-Webster on luminary

Nglish: Translation of luminary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of luminary for Arabic Speakers


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