Definition of brilliant in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbrilyənt/


1(Of light or color) very bright and radiant.
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, vivid, intense, gleaming, glaring, luminous, radiant
literary irradiant, coruscating
vivid, intense, bright, bold, dazzling
2Exceptionally clever or talented: a brilliant young mathematician a brilliant idea
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.
bright, intelligent, clever, smart, astute, intellectual;
gifted, talented, able, adept, skillful;
elite, superior, first-class, first-rate, excellent
informal brainy
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, glorious, illustrious, impressive, remarkable, exceptional
2.2British informal Very good, excellent, or marvelous: we had a brilliant time [as exclamation]: “Brilliant!” he declared excitedly as she finished telling him what had happened
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.


A diamond of brilliant cut.
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

Syllabification: bril·liant

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.