To illumine is to shine a light on something, literally or figuratively. Your desk lamp might illumine the page of your book, while the words you're reading illumine your mind.

This literary term is a more poetic way of saying "illuminate," though its original meaning was the figurative "enlighten spiritually." It's a graceful verb to use when you're talking about light that shines or glows: "The dancing candlelight cheerfully illumines the dim room." It's also useful for describing ideas that spark an intellectual or spiritual understanding: "It's the first time I've read philosophy that truly illumines my perception."

Definitions of illumine
  1. verb
    make lighter or brighter
    synonyms: illume, illuminate, light, light up
    see moresee less
    illuminate with floodlights
    illuminate with a spotlight, as in the theater
    type of:
    lighten, lighten up
    become lighter
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week