View synonyms for illumination


[ ih-loo-muh-ney-shuhn ]


  1. an act or instance of illuminating. illuminating.
  2. the fact or condition of being illuminated.
  3. a decoration of lights, usually colored lights.
  4. Sometimes illuminations. an entertainment, display, or celebration using lights as a major feature or decoration.
  5. intellectual or spiritual enlightenment.

    Synonyms: wisdom, insight, revelation, knowledge

  6. Also called illuminance, Optics. the intensity of light falling at a given place on a lighted surface; the luminous flux incident per unit area, expressed in lumens per unit of area.
  7. a supply of light:

    a source of illumination.

  8. decoration of a manuscript or book with a painted design in color, gold, etc.
  9. a design used in such decoration.


/ ɪˌluːmɪˈneɪʃən /


  1. the act of illuminating or the state of being illuminated
  2. a source of light
  3. often plural a light or lights, esp coloured lights, used as decoration in streets, parks, etc
  4. spiritual or intellectual enlightenment; insight or understanding
  5. the act of making understood; clarification
  6. decoration in colours, gold, or silver used on some manuscripts or printed works
  7. physics another name (not in technical usage) for illuminance

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Derived Forms

  • ilˌlumiˈnational, adjective

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Other Words From

  • il·lumi·nation·al adjective
  • nonil·lumi·nation noun
  • preil·lumi·nation noun
  • reil·lumi·nation noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of illumination1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Medieval Latin illūminātiōn-, stem of illūminātiō “spiritual enlightenment,” from Latin: “illustriousness, glory”; illuminate ( def ), -ion ( def )

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Example Sentences

The illumination of the darkness of this case is something we talked about.

Each individual pixel is a diode that provides its own illumination, so the screen doesn’t need a backlight.

The adolescent squid is transparent, but beneath its skin are light-reflecting pigments that, during its brief illumination, seemed to turn it to gold.

As scholar Adam Potkay noted in his 2007 book The Story of Joy, “joy is an illumination,” the ability to see beyond to something more.

The illumination comes not from the sun but from the infrared energy of the planet and its lower atmosphere.

The book is fascinating partly for its illumination of the origins of current conventions.

Rather than selective filtering for purposes of justification, information is instead used as the fuel for illumination.

An affair that blossoms in his 40s and is quickly squelched by a departmental rival serves as his single true illumination.

No matter the situation, the knowledge of handlers and the experts pales in comparison to her inner illumination.

Consider the opening of the first illumination, “After the Flood:”

The occupants of the room had been too absorbed with their own affairs to notice the gradual dimming of the illumination.

An illumination broke over his whole face when he saw her and joined her under the orange tree.

The intricate perforations of the lamp were inset with colored glass, and the result was a subdued and warm illumination.

The iris of the human eye dilates and contracts with every shift of illumination, and the Time Observatory had an iris too.

Nothing can be more beautiful of the kind than such an illumination seen from the ship.


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