[ verb ih-loo-muh-neyt; adjective, noun ih-loo-muh-nit, -neyt ]
See synonyms for: illuminateilluminatedilluminating on

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).

  1. to decorate with lights, as in celebration.

  2. to enlighten, as with knowledge.

  3. to make resplendent or illustrious: A smile illuminated her face.

  4. 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.

Origin of illuminate

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin illūminātus, past participle of illūmināre “to light up, brighten”; see illumine, -ate1

Other words for illuminate

Other words from illuminate

  • il·lu·mi·nat·ing·ly, adverb
  • pre·il·lu·mi·nate, verb (used with object)
  • re·il·lu·mi·nate, verb, re·il·lu·mi·nat·ed, re·il·lu·mi·nat·ing.
  • sem·i-il·lu·mi·nat·ed, adjective
  • un·il·lu·mi·nat·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use illuminate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for illuminate


  1. (tr) to throw light in or into; light up: to illuminate a room

  2. (tr) to make easily understood; clarify

  1. to adorn, decorate, or be decorated with lights

  2. (tr) to decorate (a letter, page, etc) by the application of colours, gold, or silver

  3. (intr) to become lighted up

adjective(ɪˈluːmɪnɪt, -ˌneɪt)
  1. archaic made clear or bright with light; illuminated

noun(ɪˈluːmɪnɪt, -ˌneɪt)
  1. a person who has or claims to have special enlightenment

Origin of illuminate

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

Derived forms of illuminate

  • illuminative, adjective
  • illuminator, noun

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