giving or casting light.
informative; enlightening.

Origin of illuminating

First recorded in 1555–65; illuminate + -ing2
Related formsnon·il·lu·mi·nat·ing, adjectivenon·il·lu·mi·nat·ing·ly, adverbun·il·lu·mi·nat·ing, adjective


[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.

to supply or brighten with light; light up.
to make lucid or clear; throw light on (a subject).
to decorate with lights, as in celebration.
to enlighten, as with knowledge.
to make resplendent or illustrious: A smile illuminated her face.
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.

to display lights, as in celebration.
to become illuminated.


Archaic. illuminated.
Obsolete. enlightened.


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

Origin of illuminate

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin illūminātus (past participle of illūmināre to light up, brighten). See illumine, -ate1
Related formsil·lu·mi·nat·ing·ly, adverbpre·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, adjectiveun·il·lu·mi·nat·ed, adjective

Synonyms for illuminate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for illuminating

Contemporary Examples of illuminating

Historical Examples of illuminating

British Dictionary definitions for illuminating



serving to inform or clarify; instructive
Derived Formsilluminatingly, adverb


verb (ɪˈluːmɪˌneɪt)

(tr) to throw light in or into; light upto illuminate a room
(tr) to make easily understood; clarify
to adorn, decorate, or be decorated with lights
(tr) to decorate (a letter, page, etc) by the application of colours, gold, or silver
(intr) to become lighted up

adjective (ɪˈluːmɪnɪt, -ˌneɪt)

archaic made clear or bright with light; illuminated

noun (ɪˈluːmɪnɪt, -ˌneɪt)

a person who has or claims to have special enlightenment
Derived Formsilluminative, adjectiveilluminator, noun

Word Origin for illuminate

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



c.1500, "to light up, shine on," a back-formation from illumination, or else from Latin illuminatus, past participle of illuminare (see illumination). Earlier was enlumyen (late 14c.) "decorate written material with gold, silver, bright colors," from Old French enluminer, from Late Latin inluminare; also illumine (late 14c.). Related: Illuminated; illuminating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper