[ bril-yuhns ]
/ ˈbrɪl yəns /
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great brightness; luster: the brilliance of a fine diamond.
excellence or distinction; conspicuous talent, mental ability, etc.
splendor, elegance, or magnificence: the brilliance of the court of Louis XIV.
Optics. that luminance of a body consisting of its saturation and brightness.
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Origin of brilliance

First recorded in 1745–55; brilli(ant) + -ance


o·ver·bril·liance, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does brilliance mean?

Brilliance commonly refers to the quality of extreme intelligence. People considered geniuses are often said to possess or display brilliance.

Brilliance is a noun form of the adjective brilliant, which commonly means extremely intelligent but can also mean outstanding, exceptional, or magnificent, as in a brilliant performance. 

These senses of brilliant are based on its more general meaning—shining brightly or sparkling. Bright sunshine can be described as brilliant in this way. A very sparkly gem such as a diamond could also be described as brilliant. Brilliance can be used in these contexts to refer to the brightness or sparkliness of such things.

Brilliant can also be used to mean vivid or vibrant. This sense of the word is especially used to describe colors and sounds that stand out due to being especially strong and clear. Brilliance refers to the quality of such things.

Example: I cannot overstate the brilliance of the performance—it was magnificent in every way.

Where does brilliance come from?

The first records of the word brilliance come from the mid-1700s. It’s a noun form of the adjective brilliant, which comes from the French brillant, meaning “shining,” from the French verb briller, “to shine.”

Brilliant was originally used as a way to describe things that literally shine or sparkle, such as the sun or a diamond. Eventually, it started to be used to describe people whose intellectual brilliance shines like the sun or a diamond.

Brilliant cut diamonds are those that are cut in a way that’s intended to maximize their brilliance—a large number of facets are added in order to better catch the light and reflect it back.

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What are some other forms related to brilliance?

What are some synonyms for brilliance?

What are some words that share a root or word element with brilliance

What are some words that often get used in discussing brilliance?

How is brilliance used in real life?

Brilliance is usually used in a positive way. It’s especially used in the context of very smart people and things that shine.



Try using brilliance!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of brilliance?

A. luster
B. brightness
C. gloom
D. luminance

How to use brilliance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for brilliance



/ (ˈbrɪljəns) /

great brightness; radiance
excellence or distinction in physical or mental ability; exceptional talent
splendour; magnificencethe brilliance of the royal court
physics a former term for luminance
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