Definition of illuminate in English:

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Pronunciation: /iˈlo͞oməˌnāt/


1 [with object] Light up: a flash of lightning illuminated the house figurative his face was illuminated by a smile
More example sentences
  • That day, it was the interior's turn to be brilliantly illuminated - by fluorescent lights carried up to the rafters by remote-controlled helium balloons.
  • A great flash of lightning illuminated the world outside, showing the trees dark against the night sky.
  • The next town was Boyes, just 29 km down the road and as we rode towards it we saw flashes of lightning illuminate the horizon.
light (up), lighten, throw light on, brighten, shine on, irradiate
literary illumine, illume, enlighten
1.1Decorate (a building or structure) with lights for a special occasion.
Example sentences
  • As the season approaches the countryside and towns light up and outlines of houses buildings and churches are illuminated.
  • It appealed to the citizens of Bangalore to decorate and illuminate their houses and shops, feed the poor and offer prayers for the long life and prosperity of the Maharaja.
  • On Diwali 1619 the Golden Temple was illuminated with many lights to welcome home and celebrate the release of Guru Hargobind from imprisonment in Gwalior fort.
2 (often as adjective illuminated) Decorate (a page or initial letter in a manuscript) with gold, silver, or colored designs.
Example sentences
  • Large illuminated letters became popular with the advent of hand-written manuscripts and official documents.
  • Thus, the museum began to acquire European sculpture and old master drawings and purchased an important collection of medieval and renaissance illuminated manuscripts.
  • He is a fine late Romanesque painter open to more modern influences, particularly those emanating from Byzantium, perhaps via Franciscan illuminated manuscripts.
decorate, illustrate, embellish, adorn, ornament
3 (usually as adjective illuminating) Help to clarify or explain (a subject or matter): a most illuminating discussion
More example sentences
  • Their results were paradoxical and their discussion illuminating.
  • There is even the promise of positive theory, exemplified in a brief but illuminating discussion of Likert's notions of effective hierarchies.
  • Of this central Lockean teaching and Zuckert's meticulous and illuminating discussions of it, we hear not one word from Prof. Mitchell.
clarify, elucidate, explain, reveal, shed light on, give insight into, demystify;
exemplify, illustrate
informal spell out
informative, enlightening, explanatory, instructive, instructional, edifying, helpful, educational, revealing
informal tell-all



Example sentences
  • In one of the best essays, ‘Sound observed’, he speculates illuminatingly.
  • LeBlanc illuminatingly documents their trials, tribulations and despairs.
  • If it hadn't, he says illuminatingly, it would have meant that oppositions haven't been using their brains.


Pronunciation: /iˈlo͞oməˌnādiv/
Example sentences
  • He says no one can prove there have been massacres, and the journalists linger on the illuminative qualities of the horizon - of the frame - the beauty of the light.
  • It is the final sentence which, in our judgment, is really illuminative, and although the court was there concerned with an application under section 78 it could equally well have been considering an application to stay the proceedings.
  • This shows that dialogue between scholars of different religious affiliations and different disciplines can be very illuminative and fruitful and can lead to a good understanding among the parties involved.


Pronunciation: /iˈlo͞oməˌnādər/
Example sentences
  • Colourful illuminators are to be installed in the pavement along Newport Street to greet visitors after dark as part of a revamp of the train station, bus station and the route to the shopping area.
  • The illuminators of fifteenth-century manuscript books are generally shuffled off by art historians into corners, niches and footnotes.
  • This book was the work of an entire team of illuminators and scribes working to a well-tried formula.


Late Middle English: from Latin illuminat- 'illuminated', from the verb illuminare, from in- 'upon' + lumen, lumin- 'light'.

Words that rhyme with illuminate


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: il·lu·mi·nate

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