Definition of enlighten in US English:



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

    ‘Christopher had not enlightened Frances as to their relationship’
    • ‘Perhaps someone out there could enlighten me with regard to the following situation that my 17-year-old son finds himself in.’
    • ‘So feel free to enlighten me if you can provide any authoritative information.’
    • ‘If I'm enlightening anyone or educating anyone, it's by way of the story itself.’
    • ‘He says he's going to enlighten me about his plan to reform Social Security.’
    • ‘Roger was enlightened on the subject and had much to say.’
    • ‘Thanks for educating and enlightening me.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I sometimes wonder if that knowledge would enlighten me, make things clearer.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Please enlighten me on this subject as I am in need of clarification.’
    • ‘Some believed enlightened leaders could simply educate the working class to understand the need for socialism.’
    • ‘Could anyone enlighten me here or give me any more information?’
    • ‘I don't understand this statement… can you please enlighten me?’
    • ‘Mrs Annan says she had no knowledge of those allegations and Dame Augusta did not enlighten her.’
    • ‘She hopes the book and documentary will enlighten people and teach them something about themselves and their relationships.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I later became friendly with a remarkable and very enlightened woman who taught me lots about life.’
    • ‘Still, I was wondering if any readers might know more details, and enlighten me on the subject.’
    • ‘This should further enlighten scientists' understanding of the causes of sudden infant deaths, according to the authors.’
    • ‘Perhaps Professor George could enlighten me on the subject.’
    inform, make aware, notify, tell, advise, let know, illuminate, open someone's eyes, apprise
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    1. 1.1 Give (someone) spiritual knowledge or insight.
      • ‘There was no flash of light; no sudden enlightening; but I began to feel a peace I had never had.’
      • ‘At its best, it enchants and enlightens us, enriching our spiritual lives.’
      • ‘The Spirit washes over us, enlightens us, breathes into our souls, descends without our bidding, sets us on fire.’
      • ‘I think it is my responsibility to enlighten people on a spiritual level.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      civilize, bring civilization to, bring culture to
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    2. 1.2archaic Shed light on (an object).
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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.