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[il-uh-strey-shuh n] /ˌɪl əˈstreɪ ʃən/
something that illustrates, as a picture in a book or magazine.
a comparison or an example intended for explanation or corroboration.
the act or process of illuminating.
the act of clarifying or explaining; elucidation.
Archaic. illustriousness; distinction.
Origin of illustration
1325-75; Middle English < Latin illustrātiōn- (stem of illustrātiō) the act of making vivid, illustrating. See illustrate, -ion
Related forms
nonillustration, noun
overillustration, noun
preillustration, noun
reillustration, noun
superillustration, noun
2, 4. explication.
Synonym Study
2. See case1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for illustration
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had for years been writing of family and social duties; here was his illustration!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Let us look at the opening chapters of Genesis for illustration.

    Understanding the Scriptures Francis McConnell
  • And this illustration has significance for more than the physical order of revelation.

    Understanding the Scriptures Francis McConnell
  • A glance at the illustration will make this plain, and also show how the wires are to be placed.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • Not from the marvellous, my friends; let us seek an illustration from the ordinary.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
British Dictionary definitions for illustration


pictorial matter used to explain or decorate a text
an example or demonstration: an illustration of his ability
the act of illustrating or the state of being illustrated
Derived Forms
illustrational, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for illustration

c.1400, "a shining;" early 15c., "a manifestation;" mid-15c., "a spiritual illumination," from Old French illustration "apparition, appearance," and directly from Latin illustrationem (nominative illustratio) "vivid representation" (in writing), literally "an enlightening," from past participle stem of illustrare "light up, make light, illuminate;" figuratively "make clear, disclose, explain; adorn, render distinguished," from assimilated form of in- "in" (see in- (2)) + lustrare "make bright, illuminate," related to lucere "shine," lux "light" (see light (n.)). Mental sense of "act of making clear in the mind" is from 1580s. Meaning "an illustrative picture" is from 1816.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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