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[ih-loo-muh-nah-tee, -ney-tahy]
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plural noun, singular il·lu·mi·na·to [ih-loo-muh-nah-toh, -ney-] /ɪˌlu məˈnɑ toʊ, -ˈneɪ-/.
  1. persons possessing, or claiming to possess, superior enlightenment.
  2. (initial capital letter) a name given to different religious societies or sects because of their claim to superior enlightenment.
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Origin of illuminati

1590–1600; < Latin illūminātī, plural of illūminātus enlightened; see illuminate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for illuminati


pl n singular -to (-təʊ)
  1. a group of persons claiming exceptional enlightenment on some subject, esp religion
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Word Origin

C16: from Latin, literally: the enlightened ones, from illūmināre to illuminate


pl n singular -to (-təʊ)
  1. any of several groups of illuminati, esp in 18th-century France
  2. a group of religious enthusiasts of 16th-century Spain who were persecuted by the Inquisition
  3. a masonic sect founded in Bavaria in 1778 claiming that the illuminating grace of Christ resided in it alone
  4. a rare name for the Rosicrucians
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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

Word Origin and History for illuminati


1590s, plural of Latin illuminatus "enlightened" (in figurative sense), past participle of illuminare (see illumination). Originally applied to a 16c. Spanish sect (the Alumbrados), then to other sects; since 1797 used as a translation of German Illuminaten, name of a secret society founded 1776 in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and holding deistic and republican principles; hence used generally of free-thinkers and sarcastically of those professing intellectual enlightenment (1816). Related: Illuminatism; illuminatist.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper