highly distinguished; renowned; famous: an illustrious leader.
glorious, as deeds or works: many illustrious achievements.
Obsolete. luminous; bright.

Origin of illustrious

1560–70; < Latin illustri(s) bright, clear, famous (equivalent to illustr(āre) to brighten (see il-1, luster1) + -is adj. suffix) + -ous
Related formsil·lus·tri·ous·ly, adverbil·lus·tri·ous·ness, nounun·il·lus·tri·ous, adjectiveun·il·lus·tri·ous·ly, adverbun·il·lus·tri·ous·ness, noun

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

Examples from the Web for illustrious

Contemporary Examples of illustrious

Historical Examples of illustrious

  • All the other statues and drawings of your illustrious kinsman are at your disposal.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Beneath were the illustrious dead; around were the illustrious living.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • There was but one feeling,—that England had lost one of her most illustrious statesmen.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • The aged and illustrious man had done what the poor boy refused to do.

    Biographical Stories

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Joseph afterward was an illustrious specimen of this disposition.

British Dictionary definitions for illustrious



of great renown; famous and distinguished
glorious or greatillustrious deeds
obsolete shining
Derived Formsillustriously, adverbillustriousness, noun

Word Origin for illustrious

C16: from Latin illustris bright, distinguished, famous, from illustrāre to make light; see illustrate
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 illustrious

1560s, from Latin illustris "lighted, bright, brilliant;" figuratively "distinguished, famous," probably a back-formation from illustrare "embellish, distinguish, make famous" (see illustration). Sometimes also illustrous. Replaced illustre in same sense (mid-15c.), from Middle French illustre.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper