lu·​mi·​nous | \ ˈlü-mə-nəs How to pronounce luminous (audio) \

Definition of luminous

1a : emitting or reflecting usually steady, suffused, or glowing light luminous objects—the nebula, the stars, the planets— Lincoln La Paz
b : of or relating to light or to luminous flux
2 : bathed in or exposed to steady light luminous with sunlight
3 : clear, enlightening a luminous explanation
4 : shining, illustrious a luminous film star a luminous performance

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Other Words from luminous

luminously adverb
luminousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for luminous

bright, brilliant, radiant, luminous, lustrous mean shining or glowing with light. bright implies emitting or reflecting a high degree of light. brilliant implies intense often sparkling brightness. radiant stresses the emission or seeming emission of rays of light. luminous implies emission of steady, suffused, glowing light by reflection or in surrounding darkness. lustrous stresses an even, rich light from a surface that reflects brightly without glittering.

Did You Know?

Luminous, like its synonyms radiant, shining, glowing, and lustrous, is generally a positive adjective, especially when it describes something that doesn't literally glow, such as a face, a performance, or a poem. Luminous signs depend on a gas such as neon, krypton, argon, xenon, or radon—and you can use luminous (DayGlo) paint to make your own signs. New technologies have now given us luminous fabrics, which are being used to produce striking or creepy effects in clothing, upholstery, and interior surfaces.

Examples of luminous in a Sentence

I saw the cat's luminous eyes in my car's headlights. a watch with a luminous dial The room was luminous with sunlight.
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Recent Examples on the Web In the weeks before the release of Greta Gerwig’s luminous and superbly crafted Little Women, film wonks on social media wondered aloud about its chances: Did the world really need another adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1869 novel? Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Greta Gerwig Didn't Get a Best Director Nod. But the Radical Triumph of Little Women Will Outlive the Oscars," 15 Jan. 2020 The luminous production bested the Broadway tour that visited Playhouse Square in 2013. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "Power pairs, such as ‘Rastus and Hattie’ and ‘Tiny Houses,’ were the talk of the stage this season: Year in Review 2019," 28 Dec. 2019 An important element, and also contributing to the film’s light-on-its-feet quality, is the luminous, graceful cinematography of France’s Yorick Le Saux. Kenneth Turan, Anchorage Daily News, "Review: With a splendid new ‘Little Women,’ Greta Gerwig is thinking big," 24 Dec. 2019 The all-neutral collection includes the basics every beauty-lover should have in their makeup bag: luminous powder, makeup brushes, and three different types of highlighter. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Jaclyn Hill Announces Her First Product Launch After Being "Cancelled" Over Hairy Lipsticks," 15 Nov. 2019 Much of her performance was affecting in its delicacy: the tone quiet and luminous in her first aria and, in her final scene, slightly hooded, as if veiled in tears. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Review: A Young Soprano Meets the Hype at the Met Opera," 1 Dec. 2019 Shimmery blush can make smooth skin look luminous and glowy, but Glen warns against using it on rough, dry, or uneven skin textures — the shimmer can magnify pimples, bumps, and large pores. Jessica Teich, Good Housekeeping, "14 Tips for Applying Blush Perfectly, Every Single Time," 18 Nov. 2019 The silk was dyed to a brilliant, rich Prussian blue that becomes glossier and more luminous after pleating. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Downton Abbey's Costume Designer Shares the Story Behind Edith's Ball Gown," 28 Sep. 2019 Sia, known for mumbling her lyrics, sounds precise and luminous here. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "The Best Karaoke Songs For Singers and Non-Singers Alike," 26 Sep. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for luminous

Middle English, from Latin luminosus, from lumin-, lumen

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Time Traveler for luminous

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for luminous

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Luminous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2020.

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More Definitions for luminous


How to pronounce luminous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of luminous

: producing or seeming to produce light
: filled with light : brightly lit
: very bright in color


lu·​mi·​nous | \ ˈlü-mə-nəs How to pronounce luminous (audio) \

Kids Definition of luminous

: giving off light The dial of the clock was luminous and it shed a very soft green light.— George Selden, The Cricket in Times Square

Other Words from luminous

luminously adverb


lu·​mi·​nous | \ ˈlü-mə-nəs How to pronounce luminous (audio) \

Medical Definition of luminous

1 : emitting or reflecting usually steady, suffused, or glowing light
2 : of or relating to light or to luminous flux

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Comments on luminous

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


to assert without proof or before proving

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