[ ig-zil-uh-reyt ]
/ ɪgˈzɪl əˌreɪt /

verb (used with object), ex·hil·a·rat·ed, ex·hil·a·rat·ing.

to enliven; invigorate; stimulate: The cold weather exhilarated the walkers.
to make cheerful or merry.



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Origin of exhilarate

1530–40; < Latin exhilarātus past participle of exhilarāre to gladden, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + hilarāre to cheer (see hilarity); see -ate1


ex·hil·a·rat·ing·ly, adverbex·hil·a·ra·tor, nounun·ex·hil·a·rat·ed, adjectiveun·ex·hil·a·rat·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does exhilarating mean?

Exhilarating means causing strong feelings of excitement and joy; thrilling and life-affirming.

Exhilarating is commonly applied to the kind of experiences that fill you with joy, wake up your senses, or make you feel alive, like riding a rollercoaster, seeing the view from the top of a mountain, or diving into cold water. Someone who experiences something exhilarating can be described as exhilarated.

Exhilarating is the adjective form of the verb exhilarate, which most commonly means to enliven, invigorate, or stimulate. Exhilarating is most often used as an adjective, but it can also be used as the continuous tense (-ing form) of the verb, as in These attractions will be exhilarating our guests from the moment they step inside the park. 

Example: The brisk wind blowing sparkling ice crystals through the air really made my morning walk exhilarating.

Where does exhilarating come from?

The first records of the word exhilarating as an adjective come from the 1600s. The verb exhilarate is recorded earlier, in the 1500s, and comes from the Latin exhilarāre, meaning “to gladden” (a less common meaning of the verb exhilarate is “to gladden” or “to make lively and cheerful”). Exhilarāre comes from hilarāre, meaning “to cheer,” and the word hilarious is based on the same root.

Exhilarating is always used positively—exhilarating things make you feel good. But not just good—the word is usually applied to intense feelings, ones that feel like a combination of pure joy and excitement. Such feelings usually come from intense experiences or activities, the kinds of ones that send a flash of adrenaline through your body or make you feel alive in some way. To be described as exhilarating, the experience has to be both intense and positive. Skiing down a mountain and feeling the bite of cold air might be exhilarating for some but downright terrifying for others.

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What are some other forms of exhilarating?

What are some synonyms for exhilarating?

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



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


How is exhilarating used in real life?

Exhilarating is always used positively, especially to describe very intense feelings or experiences.



Try using exhilarating!

Is the word exhilarating used correctly in the following sentence?

Swimming with dolphins was so exhilarating—it feels like every cell in my body is pulsing with life.

Example sentences from the Web for exhilarating

British Dictionary definitions for exhilarating (1 of 2)

/ (ɪɡˈzɪləˌreɪtɪŋ) /


causing strong feelings of excitement and happinessan exhilarating helicopter trip

Derived forms of exhilarating

exhilaratingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for exhilarating (2 of 2)

/ (ɪɡˈzɪləˌreɪt) /


(tr) to make lively and cheerful; gladden; elate

Derived forms of exhilarate

exhilaration, nounexhilarative or exhilaratory, adjective

Word Origin for exhilarate

C16: from Latin exhilarāre, from hilarāre to cheer; see hilarious
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