[ en-lahyt-n-muhnt ]
See synonyms for enlightenment on Thesaurus.com
  1. the act of enlightening.

  2. the state of being enlightened: to live in spiritual enlightenment.

  1. (usually initial capital letter)Buddhism, Hinduism. prajna.

  2. the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement of the 18th century, characterized by belief in the power of human reason and by innovations in political, religious, and educational doctrine.

Origin of enlightenment

First recorded in 1660–70; enlighten + -ment

Other words from enlightenment

  • pre·en·light·en·ment, noun
  • re·en·light·en·ment, noun

Words Nearby enlightenment

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use enlightenment in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for enlightenment (1 of 2)


/ (ɪnˈlaɪtənmənt) /

  1. the act or means of enlightening or the state of being enlightened

  2. Buddhism the awakening to ultimate truth by which man is freed from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations to which all men are otherwise subject

  1. Hinduism a state of transcendent divine experience represented by Vishnu: regarded as a goal of all religion

British Dictionary definitions for Enlightenment (2 of 2)


/ (ɪnˈlaɪtənmənt) /

  1. the Enlightenment an 18th-century philosophical movement stressing the importance of reason and the critical reappraisal of existing ideas and social institutions

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

Cultural definitions for Enlightenment


An intellectual movement of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries marked by a celebration of the powers of human reason, a keen interest in science, the promotion of religious toleration, and a desire to construct governments free of tyranny. Some of the major figures of the Enlightenment were David Hume, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, the Baron de Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.