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[en-lahyt-n] /ɛnˈlaɪt n/
verb (used with object)
to give intellectual or spiritual light to; instruct; impart knowledge to:
We hope the results of our research will enlighten our colleagues.
Archaic. to shed light upon.
Origin of enlighten
1350-1400; Middle English enli(g)htenen. See en-1, lighten1
Related forms
enlightenedly, adverb
enlightenedness, noun
enlightener, noun
enlighteningly, adverb
nonenlightened, adjective
nonenlightening, adjective
preenlighten, verb (used with object)
preenlightener, noun
reenlighten, verb (used with object)
unenlightened, adjective
unenlightening, adjective
well-enlightened, adjective
1. illumine, edify, teach, inform.
1. mystify, confuse, perplex, puzzle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for enlighten
  • It can enlighten, amuse and enrage — sometimes all at once.
  • Obviously you care enough to enlighten us with your insightful reply.
  • Movies and music engage and enlighten me, but they don't steal my mind.
  • The message is that a public education system can enlighten some minds while failing to reach others.
  • If you would be so kind, please enlighten me as to the reason for the stigma.
  • In short, the consensus opinion glosses over stuff that could further enlighten investors.
  • Certainly, on some level, this profusion of sensory data has the potential to enlighten us.
  • Please enlighten everyone as to the experiments that can and can't be done in astronomy.
  • The article helped enlighten many specialists.
  • Let me try to enlighten him.
British Dictionary definitions for enlighten


verb (transitive)
to give information or understanding to; instruct; edify
to free from ignorance, prejudice, or superstition
to give spiritual or religious revelation to
(poetic) to shed light on
Derived Forms
enlightener, noun
enlightening, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for enlighten

late 14c., "to remove the dimness or blindness (usually figurative) from one's eyes or heart;" see en- (1) + lighten. Old English had inlihtan. Related: Enlightened; enlightening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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