Definition of enlighten in English:



  • 1Give (someone) greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation.

    ‘Christopher had not enlightened Francis as to their relationship’
    • ‘If I'm enlightening anyone or educating anyone, it's by way of the story itself.’
    • ‘This should further enlighten scientists' understanding of the causes of sudden infant deaths, according to the authors.’
    • ‘Mrs Annan says she had no knowledge of those allegations and Dame Augusta did not enlighten her.’
    • ‘I've been less interested in influencing events and the ministers who make them than in enlightening readers who may want to understand what is going on.’
    • ‘Perhaps someone out there could enlighten me with regard to the following situation that my 17-year-old son finds himself in.’
    • ‘I don't understand this statement… can you please enlighten me?’
    • ‘He says he's going to enlighten me about his plan to reform Social Security.’
    • ‘The letter writer apparently lacks some understanding about the education system today and I'd like to provide him with some information that may enlighten him.’
    • ‘Perhaps Professor George could enlighten me on the subject.’
    • ‘Some believed enlightened leaders could simply educate the working class to understand the need for socialism.’
    • ‘Despite this, I'm still considering my response to it, but rest assured I will enlighten you all with my insights in the near future.’
    • ‘Roger was enlightened on the subject and had much to say.’
    • ‘Thanks for educating and enlightening me.’
    • ‘Please enlighten me on this subject as I am in need of clarification.’
    • ‘Could anyone enlighten me here or give me any more information?’
    • ‘I later became friendly with a remarkable and very enlightened woman who taught me lots about life.’
    • ‘I sometimes wonder if that knowledge would enlighten me, make things clearer.’
    • ‘So feel free to enlighten me if you can provide any authoritative information.’
    • ‘Still, I was wondering if any readers might know more details, and enlighten me on the subject.’
    • ‘She hopes the book and documentary will enlighten people and teach them something about themselves and their relationships.’
    inform, make aware, notify, tell, advise, let know, illuminate, open someone's eyes, apprise
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    1. 1.1Give (someone) spiritual knowledge or insight.
      ‘the Holy Spirit enlightened the Apostles’
      • ‘The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.’
      • ‘At its best, it enchants and enlightens us, enriching our spiritual lives.’
      • ‘I think it is my responsibility to enlighten people on a spiritual level.’
      • ‘Solid has gone on a spiritual pilgrimage to some mountainous area in Tibet to enlighten his inner-self, and spend plenty of time learning the ancient martial arts techniques with a load of orange-robed monks.’
      • ‘As you stand firm in whatever trials you are facing, the Holy Spirit will be present with you to enlighten you, to strengthen you, and to draw you closer to himself.’
      • ‘He is not just another man in the long line of religious teachers, he is just another spiritual master enlightened by knowledge, or another prophet in the long line of prophets.’
      • ‘There was no flash of light; no sudden enlightening; but I began to feel a peace I had never had.’
      • ‘The Spirit washes over us, enlightens us, breathes into our souls, descends without our bidding, sets us on fire.’
      civilize, bring civilization to, bring culture to
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  • 2archaic Shed light on (an object)

    ‘the sun enlightened some such clouds near him’
    • ‘Even in the dreary weather, a small ray of light cascaded down, enlightening the sparkle of the gold, which Elsa wore.’
    • ‘Candles burned every where to enlighten the room.’
    • ‘In front of the town there are high and mighty cliffs which were enlightened with strong lights, put up by my uncle, an electrician working for the town.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘make luminous’; formerly also as inlighten): in early use from Old English inlīhtan ‘to shine’; later from en-, in- (as an intensifier) + lighten or the noun light.