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

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 distinction, not to be confused with the team’s longstanding Honor Roll, has been bestowed on luminaries since 2011, though after the fourth round of the selections — in 2014 — the team hadn’t made any additions. Steve Svekis,, "The Dolphins prepare to unveil latest Walk of Fame members | Photos," 10 July 2018 Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam — three 60-something luminaries who have expanded the boundaries of country music — are touring together for the first time. Bill Brownlee, kansascity, "KC concerts June 21-27: Macklemore & Kesha; Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle & Dwight Yoakam," 19 June 2018 As part of his effort, Manafort lined up former European political luminaries to work in secret on behalf of Ukraine and Manafort’s client, then-President Viktor Yanokovych. David Voreacos,, "Mueller Plays Hardball With Manafort, Sending a Message to Others," 5 June 2018 For a design staff that has so many luminaries among its ranks—none higher than Warren Spector, arguably—the fruits of its labor thus far play like a mountain of compromise. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Underworld Ascendant world-premiere hands-on: So far, it’s Underwhelm Ascendant," 1 June 2018 Lonely Whale, a foundation co-founded by the actor Adrian Grenier, has a (slightly hilarious) YouTube video showing an octopus slapping straws from the mouths of luminaries, including model Brooklyn Decker and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Caille Millner,, "A splash of cold water on straw-ban fervor: Many people with disabilities need them," 13 July 2018 The #MeToo movement that has toppled the careers of Hollywood luminaries and political heavyweights has registered little more than a ripple in Venezuela. Washington Post, "In embattled Venezuela, beauty offers ladder out of poverty," 6 July 2018 The Democratic luminaries praised Jealous for championing progressive values of universal health care, free college tuition and ending mass incarceration. Doug Donovan,, "Joe Biden joins Maryland Democrats in Baltimore to rally behind Ben Jealous' campaign for govenor," 1 July 2018 Longtime buddy Ben Harper contributing to a pair of tracks and Freund is joined by Foo Fighters' Rami Jaffe and a batch of session luminaries. Gary Graff, Billboard, "Tom Freund Shares Title Track From New Album 'East of Lincoln': Premiere," 28 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

20 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for luminary

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

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English Language Learners Definition of luminary

: a very famous or successful person

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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).


a magnificent or impressive array

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