illuminate

illuminate, illumine, light, lighten, enlighten, illustrate are comparable when meaning to fill with light or to throw light upon.
Illuminate implies the use of a bright light or of something comparable to it in such a way that what is dark is made bright or what is complicated, obscure, or vague is made clear
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the oblique band of sunlight . . . illuminated her as her presence illuminated the heath— Hardy

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the greatest truths are perhaps those which being simple in themselves illuminate a large and complex body of knowledge— Alexander

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he longed ... to hear more about the life of which her careless words had given him so illuminating a glimpse— Wharton

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Illumine is chiefly literary or poetical for illuminate
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what in me is dark illumineMilton

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no lurid fire of hell or human passion illumines their scenes— Eliot

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Light, lighten, and enlighten carry a stronger implication of providing with light for clear seeing than of throwing a light upon.
Light is the most consistently literal of these terms, though it often carries a suggestion of brightening the way of one who otherwise might stumble or go astray
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the room was brilliantly lighted

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all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death— Shak.

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seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise— Pope

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the old man scratched a match, the spark lit up the keyhole of 'a door— Lowell

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Lighten, like light, basically implies a making brighter or a lessening of darkness, but it has more extended and poetic use
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lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord— Book of Common Prayer

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I would not convey the thought that an opinion is the worse for being lightened by a smile— Cardozo

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Enlighten, which has almost wholly lost its basic meaning of to make physically light or bright, is common when filling with intellectual or spiritual light is implied
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the Chinese philosopher . . . needed no discovery of science to enlighten him; that enlightenment was part of his philosophy, his religion— Binyon

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Sometimes the term implies that one has been supplied with information necessary to the understanding of something
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in her simplicity she did not know what it [her mistake] was, till a hint from a nodding acquaintance enlightened her— Hardy

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and sometimes it implies sufficient education and experience to enable one to meet all needs and, especially in the adjective enlightened, to remove or overcome superstition, prejudice, or intolerance
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the civilized and en-lightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence— Taney

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Illustrate (see also EXEMPLIFY) is somewhat rare in a sense which approaches that of illuminate and in which it suggests the shedding of luster rather than of light, embellishment rather than elucidation, and distinct exhibition rather than a bringing into view
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the poet or philosopher illustrates his age and country by the efforts of a single mind— Gibbon

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narrow of vision but steadfast to principles, they fronted life resolutely, honoring and illustrating the supreme worth of freedom— Repplier

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Analogous words: *light, fire, kindle: elucidate, *explain: illustrate, *exemplify
Antonyms: darken, obscure
Contrasted words: complicate, involve (see corresponding adjectives at COMPLEX)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

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  • Illuminate — Il*lu mi*nate, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Illuminated}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Illuminating}.] [L. illuminatus, p. p. of illuminare; pref. il in + luminare to enlighten, fr. lumen light. See {Luminous}, and cf. {Illume}, {Illumine}, {Enlimn}, {Limn}.] 1. To… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • illuminate — [v1] make light brighten, fire, flash, floodlight, highlight, hit with a light*, ignite, illume, illumine, irradiate, kindle, light, lighten, light up, limelight*, spot, spotlight; concept 624 Ant. cloud, darken, obscure illuminate [v2] make… …   New thesaurus

  • illuminate — ► VERB 1) light up. 2) help to clarify or explain. 3) decorate (a page or initial letter in a manuscript) with gold, silver, or coloured designs. DERIVATIVES illuminative adjective illuminator noun. ORIGIN Latin illuminare illuminate , from lume …   English terms dictionary

  • Illuminate — Il*lu mi*nate, v. i. To light up in token or rejoicing. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Illuminate — Il*lu mi*nate, a. [L. illuminatus, p. p.] Enlightened. Bp. Hall. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Illuminate — Il*lu mi*nate, n. One who is enlightened; esp., a pretender to extraordinary light and knowledge. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • illuminate — index clarify, comment, construe (translate), delineate, demonstrate (establish), depict, describe …   Law dictionary

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