To illuminate is to light up — with physical light or with an idea. A spotlight might illuminate an actor on stage, and a good chemistry teacher might illuminate students with a lesson on the atomic structure of hydrogen.

Originally, the verb illuminate referred to decorating handwritten manuscripts with bright lettering or pictures. Monks illuminated manuscripts with colors like gold, silver, bright red, and blue. Nowadays you can illuminate anything in the dark — either literally or figuratively. If you are afraid of the dark, illuminate your bedroom. In the dark when it comes to organic chemistry? Get an illuminating tutor.

Definitions of illuminate
  1. verb
    make lighter or brighter
    synonyms: illume, illumine, light, light up
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    illuminate with floodlights
    illuminate with a spotlight, as in the theater
    type of:
    lighten, lighten up
    become lighter
  2. verb
    make free from confusion or ambiguity; make clear
  3. verb
    add embellishments and paintings to (medieval manuscripts)
    see moresee less
    miniate, rubricate
    decorate (manuscripts) with letters painted red
    type of:
    adorn, beautify, decorate, embellish, grace, ornament
    make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc.
Word Family

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