1599, pl. of L. illuminatus
"enlightened" (in figurative sense), pp. of illuminare
). Originally applied to a 16c. Spanish sect (the Alumbrados), then to other sects; since 1797 used as a translation of Ger. Illuminaten,
name of a secret society founded 1776 in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and holding deistic and republican principles; hence used generally of free-thinkers and sarcastically of those professing intellectual enlightenment (1816).