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[ih-luhs-tree-uh s] /ɪˈlʌs tri əs/
highly distinguished; renowned; famous:
an illustrious leader.
glorious, as deeds or works:
many illustrious achievements.
Obsolete. luminous; bright.
Origin of illustrious
1560-70; < Latin illustri(s) bright, clear, famous (equivalent to illustr(āre) to brighten (see il-1, luster1) + -is adj. suffix) + -ous
Related forms
illustriously, adverb
illustriousness, noun
unillustrious, adjective
unillustriously, adverb
unillustriousness, noun
1. celebrated, eminent, famed. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for illustrious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All the other statues and drawings of your illustrious kinsman are at your disposal.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Beneath were the illustrious dead; around were the illustrious living.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • There was but one feeling,—that England had lost one of her most illustrious statesmen.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • The aged and illustrious man had done what the poor boy refused to do.

    Biographical Stories Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Joseph afterward was an illustrious specimen of this disposition.

British Dictionary definitions for illustrious


of great renown; famous and distinguished
glorious or great: illustrious deeds
(obsolete) shining
Derived Forms
illustriously, adverb
illustriousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin illustris bright, distinguished, famous, from illustrāre to make light; see illustrate
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 illustrious

1560s, from Latin illustris "lighted, bright, brilliant;" figuratively "distinguished, famous," probably a back-formation from illustrare "embellish, distinguish, make famous" (see illustration). Sometimes also illustrous. Replaced illustre in same sense (mid-15c.), from Middle French illustre.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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