il·​lus·​trate | \ ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt How to pronounce illustrate (audio) also i-ˈlə- \
illustrated; illustrating

Definition of illustrate

transitive verb

1a : to provide with visual features intended to explain or decorate illustrate a book
b : to make clear by giving or by serving as an example or instance
c : to make clear : clarify
2 : to show clearly : demonstrate
3 obsolete
a : enlighten
b : to light up
4a archaic : to make illustrious
b obsolete
(1) : to make bright
(2) : adorn

intransitive verb

: to give an example or instance

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Other Words from illustrate

illustrator \ ˈi-​lə-​ˌstrā-​tər How to pronounce illustrate (audio) also  i-​ˈlə-​ \ noun

Synonyms for illustrate


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Examples of illustrate in a Sentence

He illustrated his lecture with stories of his own experiences in the field. Please give a few examples to illustrate your point. The results illustrate how important it is to wear your seatbelt. The students will write and illustrate their own stories.
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Recent Examples on the Web The scenes in this swath of Colombia illustrate how illicit migration to the United States is evolving. Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2021 Most climate change models illustrate what the Earth will look like by the year 2100. Elizabeth Fernandez, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021 Health Department statistics illustrate the drop-off. Skyler Swisher,, 19 Oct. 2021 Freelancers and contractors form the backbone of the industry and are regularly tapped to write, illustrate, and design products for top publishers. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, 19 Oct. 2021 Oregon hosts Cal on Friday (7:30 p.m., ESPN) will illustrate their mettle. oregonlive, 13 Oct. 2021 Alongside more than a dozen contributors, De Maio and Benjamins illustrate what is sometimes a vast chasm between the life expectancy of Black and white people in urban America. Isabella Cueto, STAT, 10 Oct. 2021 That’s an unfortunate omission, since Galileo’s complicated dealings with the Catholic Church illustrate both the influence of Occam’s philosophy and the limitations of his razor. Andrew Crumey, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2021 Lam's comments illustrate just how closely Hong Kong's government has tied its Covid strategy with China -- not surprising for a Chinese territory, but a further sign of Hong Kong's deteriorating reputation as an international hub. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 8 Oct. 2021

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

1526, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

History and Etymology for illustrate

Latin illustratus, past participle of illustrare, from in- + lustrare to purify, make bright — more at luster

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Learn More About illustrate

Time Traveler for illustrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of illustrate was in 1526

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Statistics for illustrate

Last Updated

25 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Illustrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for illustrate



English Language Learners Definition of illustrate

: to give examples in order to make (something) easier to understand
: to be proof or evidence of (something)
: to explain or decorate a story, book, etc., with pictures


il·​lus·​trate | \ ˈi-lə-ˌstrāt How to pronounce illustrate (audio) \
illustrated; illustrating

Kids Definition of illustrate

1 : to supply with pictures or diagrams meant to explain or decorate illustrate a book
2 : to make clear by using examples She illustrated her point with stories.
3 : to serve as an example The results illustrate the need for planning.

More from Merriam-Webster on illustrate

Nglish: Translation of illustrate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of illustrate for Arabic Speakers


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