Definition of illuminate in US English:

illuminate

verb

  • 1with object Light up.

    ‘a flash of lightning illuminated the house’
    figurative ‘his face was illuminated by a smile’
    • ‘When the lights flashed it illuminated the sky and the whole area.’
    • ‘A flash of light briefly illuminated the hallway, pouring through the broken window and burning their eyes.’
    • ‘Kentis elects not to use artificial lighting, so the only time we see the characters is when a flash of lightning illuminates them and the sharks that are circling them.’
    • ‘All movement was eradicated as a brilliant flash of blue-orange light illuminated their horrified faces.’
    • ‘A green fluorescent light illuminates a wall work that quotes the iconic graphic equaliser readout in homage to Donald Judd.’
    • ‘Great flashes of light illuminated the whole area, punctuated by the rumbling of thunder clouds.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At the moment, in the third window down, a light shone brightly, illuminating a small patch of the garden below.’
    • ‘Seems its only presence to the passing motorist is a narrow entrance road and a sign which wasn't illuminated.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then a storm begins, and the flashes of lightning briefly and beautifully illuminate a tree waving in the wind outside the window.’
    • ‘The lightning flashes illuminated the pastor's face.’
    • ‘At the top of the last little bump, they could see the shoulder-high summit sign illuminated by the first light of day.’
    • ‘A great flash of lightning illuminated the world outside, showing the trees dark against the night sky.’
    • ‘Lightning flashed, illuminating the dark hollow face of a single man.’
    • ‘The heads will face one another topped with a helmet and lamp from which beams of light will illuminate the carriageways.’
    • ‘He said oversized and illuminated signs were not appropriate in the area.’
    • ‘A golden light was shining down illuminating Isabelle's face.’
    • ‘The sun's morning light shone softly, illuminating her blue eyes.’
    • ‘Overheard the sun shone brightly, illuminating the garden with a brilliant ray of light.’
    light, light up, throw light on, cast light upon, brighten, make brighter, shine on, flood with light, floodlight, irradiate
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    1. 1.1 Decorate (a building or structure) with lights for a special occasion.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘During this period, the minarets of all the mosques are illuminated with strings of electric lights.’
      • ‘During the Lantern Festival, most temples are illuminated by colorful lanterns of all shapes and sizes.’
      • ‘As the season approaches the countryside and towns light up and outlines of houses buildings and churches are illuminated.’
  • 2often as adjective illuminatedDecorate (a page or initial letter in a manuscript) with gold, silver, or colored designs.

    • ‘Two different worlds present themselves to the scholar of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts from Spain.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Large illuminated letters became popular with the advent of hand-written manuscripts and official documents.’
    • ‘Yet a current show there, on one of the grandest of all illuminated manuscripts, does both.’
    decorate, illustrate, embellish, adorn, ornament, enhance, emblazon, highlight
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  • 3usually as adjective illuminatingHelp to clarify or explain (a subject or matter)

    ‘a most illuminating discussion’
    • ‘Of this central Lockean teaching and Zuckert's meticulous and illuminating discussions of it, we hear not one word from Prof. Mitchell.’
    • ‘The commentary is particularly illuminating.’
    • ‘Their results were paradoxical and their discussion illuminating.’
    • ‘That last incident is particularly illuminating.’
    • ‘The two books provide detailed but clear legislative history while illuminating the changing political process and values of the postwar West.’
    • ‘Like the rescue workers there, one waded in trying to find something that was alive, that would illuminate and explain what had happened.’
    • ‘The editors emphasize making tacit knowledge itself explicit, rather than illuminating the process of creating and using valuable tacit knowledge.’
    • ‘I would like to thank him for illuminating discussions and for sending a manuscript prior to publication.’
    • ‘All of these essays are clear, well documented, and illuminating.’
    • ‘The text ends on page 710, the rest consisting of notes and index, and while the notes are sharp and illuminating, some of them amount to mini-essays.’
    • ‘Even here, in the first chapter, the reader is treated to probing analysis and illuminating discussion.’
    • ‘Stark's discussion is lively, pointed and frequently illuminating.’
    • ‘There is even the promise of positive theory, exemplified in a brief but illuminating discussion of Likert's notions of effective hierarchies.’
    • ‘Questions were asked about black box, flight paths, crashes, missile technology, etc., and the answers were illuminating.’
    • ‘Though MacDonald's discussion of this topic is interesting and illuminating, it left me unconvinced.’
    • ‘He does so clearly, often illuminating the topic with discussion of classical texts.’
    • ‘Cross-cultural research can help illuminate and clarify the social and developmental differences that exist across various cultures.’
    • ‘Fellow blogger and super-cute Darian had some very funny, illuminating and revealing stories about the film he was currently working on.’
    • ‘Arf contributed to the education of many of the present day mathematicians in Turkey, not only by his lectures but also through illuminating discussions in conferences and seminars.’
    • ‘The discussion is often illuminating: for example, the discussion of the divine king, or of the marginalization of royal women in Benin.’
    clarify, elucidate, explain, reveal, make clear, shed light on, cast light on, give insight into, clear up
    informative, enlightening, revealing, explanatory, instructive, instructional, helpful, educational, educative, edifying, rewarding, enriching
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Origin

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

Pronunciation

illuminate

/ɪˈluməˌneɪt//iˈlo͞oməˌnāt/