View synonyms for brilliant


[ bril-yuhnt ]


  1. shining brightly; sparkling; glittering; lustrous:

    the brilliant lights of the city.

  2. distinguished; illustrious:

    a brilliant performance by a young pianist.

  3. having or showing great intelligence, talent, quality, etc.:

    a brilliant technician.

  4. strong and clear in tone; vivid; bright:

    brilliant blues and greens; the brilliant sound of the trumpets.

  5. splendid or magnificent:

    a brilliant social event.


  1. Jewelry. a gem, especially a diamond, having any of several varieties of the brilliant cut.
  2. Printing. a size of type about 3½-point.


/ ˈbrɪljənt /


  1. shining with light; sparkling
  2. (of a colour) having a high saturation and reflecting a considerable amount of light; vivid
  3. outstanding; exceptional

    a brilliant success

  4. splendid; magnificent

    a brilliant show

  5. of outstanding intelligence or intellect

    a brilliant idea

    a brilliant mind

  6. music
    1. (of the tone of an instrument) having a large proportion of high harmonics above the fundamental
    2. Alsobrilliantbrijɑ̃brilliantebrijɑ̃t with spirit; lively


  1. Also calledbrilliant cut
    1. a popular circular cut for diamonds and other gemstones in the form of two many-faceted pyramids (the top one truncated) joined at their bases
    2. a diamond of this cut
  2. (formerly) a size of a printer's type approximately equal to 4 point

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Derived Forms

  • ˈbrilliantly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • brilliant·ly adverb
  • brilliant·ness noun
  • over·brilliant adjective
  • over·brilliant·ly adverb
  • quasi-brilliant adjective
  • quasi-brilliant·ly adverb
  • un·brilliant adjective
  • un·brilliant·ly adverb
  • un·brilliant·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of brilliant1

First recorded in 1675–85; from French brillant “shining,” present participle of briller “to shine,” from Italian brillare, perhaps either ultimately from Latin bēryllus beryl ( def ) or derivative of an expressive root

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Word History and Origins

Origin of brilliant1

C17: from French brillant shining, from briller to shine, from Italian brillare , from brillo beryl

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Synonym Study

See bright.

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Example Sentences

That was the brilliant idea at the heart of the film Arrival.

We had a brilliant team that figured out often with duct tape and chicken wire in the early days how to get things up and running.

From Ozy

Anytime I feel the need for a little push that’s authentic and earnest, I’ll listen to an episode or two to be reminded of what brilliant and thoughtful folks are doing in the world.

From Fortune

People have been using long-tail keywords for a long time and seeing brilliant results with their search rankings.

She is a brilliant, compassionate, empathetic candidate and that came across in her speech.

These were brilliant writers who were really great at keeping it to jokes.

His speeches, which he wrote himself, were frequently brilliant, even if they too often pointed backward instead of forward.

Sachin Tendulkar may be one of the most brilliant players in the sport, but he struggles to liven up his memoirs.

Both impart the experience of sitting with brilliant Cubans over a rum to debate the State of Cuban Intellectual Life.

Of course, you can read this just as a brilliant, subversive coda to a horror movie.

In the evening, St. Peter's and its accessories were illuminated—by far the most brilliant spectacle I ever saw.

Kum Kale has been a brilliant bit of work, though I fear we have lost nearly a quarter of our effectives.

Admiration for brilliant colours, for moving things, such as feathers, is common to the two.

But in August, 1805, the approaching war with Austria caused the Emperor to summon his most brilliant cavalry leader to his side.

As a brilliant conversationalist and well-versed political economist he has few rivals in his country.


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More About Brilliant

What does brilliant mean?

Brilliant is commonly used to mean extremely intelligent, as in a brilliant mathematician or a brilliant idea. People considered geniuses are often described as brilliant in this way.

It can also be used to describe something considered outstanding, exceptional, or magnificent, as in a brilliant performance. In the U.K., brilliant is often used in an informal way to mean excellent or awesome.

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.

In fact, the term brilliant cut refers to a type of cut used to increase the sparkliness of gems, especially diamonds. Brilliant can even be used as a noun to refer to such a diamond.

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.

The noun brilliance refers to the quality of someone or something that is brilliant.

Example: It was a brilliant performance from a brilliant musical mind.

Where does brilliant come from?

The first records of the word brilliant come from around 1680. It 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 with shining intellects.

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.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to brilliant?

What are some synonyms for brilliant?

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

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

How is brilliant used in real life?

Brilliant is usually used in a positive way. It’s especially used to describe very smart people and things that shine.



Try using brilliant!

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

A. shining
B. gloomy
C. bright
D. vibrant




brilliancybrilliant cut