View synonyms for illuminate


[ verb ih-loo-muh-neyt; adjective noun ih-loo-muh-nit, -neyt ]

verb (used with object)

, il·lu·mi·nat·ed, il·lu·mi·nat·ing.
  1. to supply or brighten with light; light up.
  2. to make lucid or clear; throw light on (a subject).

    Synonyms: elucidate, explain, clarify

  3. to decorate with lights, as in celebration.
  4. to enlighten, as with knowledge.
  5. to make resplendent or illustrious:

    A smile illuminated her face.

  6. to decorate (a manuscript, book, etc.) with colors and gold or silver, as was often done in the Middle Ages.

verb (used without object)

, il·lu·mi·nat·ed, il·lu·mi·nat·ing.
  1. to display lights, as in celebration.
  2. to become illuminated.


  1. Archaic. illuminated.
  2. Obsolete. enlightened.


  1. Archaic. a person who is or affects to be specially enlightened.



  1. tr to throw light in or into; light up

    to illuminate a room

  2. tr to make easily understood; clarify
  3. to adorn, decorate, or be decorated with lights
  4. tr to decorate (a letter, page, etc) by the application of colours, gold, or silver
  5. intr to become lighted up


  1. archaic.
    made clear or bright with light; illuminated


  1. a person who has or claims to have special enlightenment
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Derived Forms

  • ilˈlumiˌnator, noun
  • ilˈluminative, adjective
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Other Words From

  • il·lumi·nating·ly adverb
  • preil·lumi·nate verb (used with object)
  • reil·lumi·nate verb reilluminated reilluminating
  • semi-il·lumi·nated adjective
  • unil·lumi·nated adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of illuminate1

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin illūminātus, past participle of illūmināre “to light up, brighten”; illumine ( def ), -ate 1( def )
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Word History and Origins

Origin of illuminate1

C16: from Latin illūmināre to light up, from lūmen light
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Example Sentences

The beast stood immobile, glaring at us with yellow eyes in the winter dark and illuminated unevenly by Sergey’s light as our pace quickened.

What’s really interesting, though, are the fuzzy jets and streamers surrounding the comet, which are especially prominent when illuminated like this from behind.

Even if nothing is actually decided at the conventions, they still shine a spotlight on the parties, illuminating emerging factions and up-and-coming politicians, setting the stage for — and creating — the future of each party.

Visitors will enter through an illuminated maze, then be invited to contribute words from kiosks, after which an AI-powered algorithm will collect and parse them into poetry, and perhaps shoot them into outer space.

From Ozy

In the ocean’s depths, it might take more than a little light to illuminate some of the planet’s darkest fish.

When we can barely illuminate our own world, it would be superstitious to imagine that dead men could do it for us.

These numbers portend to illuminate society-threatening failures within the current immigration enforcement system.

Reading them will illuminate your own life and make it better.

Dispensing with some of the objections helps to illuminate this case.

But he says it well and often adds fresh details that help illuminate events in countries like Afghanistan.

Two many-branched candelabra, holding wax lights, brilliantly illuminate the game.

Great artists appear in clusters, and amid the other constellations that illuminate the intellectual heavens.

By that time the grin in his face was almost bright enough of itself to illuminate any ordinary page.

History wants no illusions; it should illuminate and instruct, not merely give descriptions and narratives which impress us.

There was sufficient light from the lamps of the two cars to illuminate the scene.