Definition of brilliant in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbrɪlj(ə)nt/


1(Of light or colour) very bright: brilliant sunshine illuminated the scene
More example sentences
  • Overhead the sun shone brightly, illuminating the garden with a brilliant ray of light.
  • He slowly opened his eyes and bright rays of brilliant light flashed into his eyes.
  • Something happened then, it was as if a brilliant ray of light shone down upon him.
bright, shining, blazing, dazzling, light;
vivid, intense, ablaze, beaming, gleaming, glaring, luminous, lustrous, luminescent, radiant, incandescent, phosphorescent, scintillating, resplendent
literary irradiant, lucent, effulgent, refulgent, fulgent, lucid, glistering, coruscating, lambent, fulgurant, fulgurating, fulgurous
vivid, intense, bright, blazing, dazzling
2Exceptionally clever or talented: he was quite brilliant and was promoted almost at once the germ of a brilliant idea hit her
More example sentences
  • The young Lord Burlington was brilliant and precocious.
  • He was a wealthy young man, a brilliant battle commander, intelligent and witty.
  • We'll also be able to take advantage of some of Gotham's most brilliant magazine talent.
gifted, talented, virtuoso, genius, accomplished, ingenious, masterly, inventive, creative;
intelligent, bright, clever, smart, astute, acute, brainy, intellectual, profound;
skilful, able, expert, adept, elite, superior, crack, choice, first-class, first-rate, excellent;
educated, scholarly, learned, erudite, cerebral;
informal brainy, genius
North American informal whip-smart
2.1Outstanding; impressive: his brilliant career at Harvard
More example sentences
  • Franklin's career was brilliant from the very beginning.
  • His brief but brilliant career is resurfacing too.
  • We'll definitely keep an eye on your brilliant career!
superb, magnificent, splendid, impressive, remarkable, exceptional, glorious, illustrious
3British informal Excellent; marvellous: we had a brilliant time [as exclamation]: ‘Brilliant!’ he declared excitedly
More example sentences
  • You're just so brilliant and you're one of the coolest people ever.
  • He has a wonderful wife, a fantastic job and two brilliant children.
  • You are brilliant, a wonderful photographer, beautiful, and funny.
excellent, marvellous, superb, very good, first-rate, first-class, wonderful, outstanding, exceptional, magnificent, splendid, superlative, matchless, peerless
informal great, terrific, tremendous, smashing, fantastic, sensational, stellar, fabulous, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, ace, fab, A1, cool, awesome, amazeballs, magic, wicked, tip-top, top-notch, out of sight, out of this world, way-out, capital
British informal brill, bosting
US informal on fleek
Australian/New Zealand informal bonzer
British informal, dated spiffing, topping, top-hole, wizard


A diamond of brilliant cut: an elegant necklace with four rows of brilliants
More example sentences
  • Our artist expands it into a bracelet and fastens it with a forget-me-not in turquoises and brilliants.
  • The headdress was an heirloom that mingled pearls with a few choice brilliants.
  • The following are all modified brilliants: marquise, heart, oval and pear shape.


Late 17th century: from French brillant 'shining', present participle of briller, from Italian brillare, probably from Latin beryllus (see beryl).

  • This is from French brillant ‘shining’ which is probably from Latin beryllus ‘beryl’. The abbreviation brill meaning ‘great, wonderful’ came into use in the 1980s.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bril|liant

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