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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 enlightening
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We hear a great deal about "enlightening the conscience;" but it cannot be done.

    Ingersoll in Canada Allen Pringle
  • It was explained to him how the Krooman had been enlightening his master.

    The Boy Slaves Mayne Reid
  • Moreover Bordeaux was more exposed to the enlightening influence of the sun of philosophy than the centre of France.

    History of the Girondists, Volume I Alphonse de Lamartine
  • The detective, naturally, had no intention of enlightening Wulf as to the truth.

    A Royal Prisoner Pierre Souvestre
  • That little round body, Mrs. Bairnsfather, was enlightening us all as to Strathorans affairs.

    Merkland Mrs. Oliphant
British Dictionary definitions for enlightening


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 enlightening



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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