noun, plural lu·mi·nar·ies.

a celestial body, as the sun or moon.
a body, object, etc., that gives light.
a person who has attained eminence in his or her field or is an inspiration to others: one of the luminaries in the field of medical science.


of, relating to, or characterized by light.

Origin of luminary

1400–50; late Middle English luminarye < Medieval Latin lūmināria lamp. See luminaria Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for luminary

Historical Examples of luminary

  • Wish I knew the name of the luminary raising hell for me this morning!

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • "Then I should say that for a luminary of science your light is very limited," returned Hermione.

    Paul Patoff

    F. Marion Crawford

  • And for the same reason we have to place the foot of the luminary on the horizon.

  • The dimensions of our luminary are commensurate with his importance.

    The Story of the Heavens

    Robert Stawell Ball

  • Then she extinguished the fourth, so that the only luminary left in the room was the lamp.

British Dictionary definitions for luminary


noun plural -naries

a person who enlightens or influences others
a famous person
literary something, such as the sun or moon, that gives off light


of, involving, or characterized by light or enlightenment

Word Origin for luminary

C15: via Old French, from Latin lūmināre lamp, 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 luminary

mid-15c., "lamp, source of (artificial) light," from Old French luminarie (12c.), "lamp, lights, lighting; candles; brightness, illumination," from Late Latin luminare "light, torch, lamp, heavenly body," literally "that which gives light," from Latin lumen (genitive luminis) "light," related to lucere "to shine" (see light (n.)). Sense of "notable person" is first recorded 1690s, though the Middle English word also had a figurative sense of "source of spiritual light, example of holiness."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper