Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To give spiritual or intellectual insight to: "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppression of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day” ( Thomas Jefferson).
  • transitive v. To give information to; inform or instruct.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To supply with light; to illuminate; as, the sun enlightens the earth.
  • v. To make clear to the intellect or conscience; to shed the light of truth and knowledge upon; to furnish with increase of knowledge; to instruct; as, to enlighten the mind or understanding.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To supply with light; to illuminate.
  • transitive v. To make clear to the intellect or conscience; to shed the light of truth and knowledge upon; to furnish with increase of knowledge; to instruct.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To shed light upon; supply with light; illuminate.
  • To give intellectual or spiritual light to; illuminate by increase of knowledge and wisdom; instruct; impart knowledge to: as, to enlighten an ignorant community; she was soon enlightened as to his motives.
  • Synonyms To illume, illumine, irradiate.
  • To teach.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. give spiritual insight to; in religion
  • v. make free from confusion or ambiguity; make clear
  • v. make understand

Etymologies

Formerly also inlighten, from Middle English enlightenen, inlightnen, a hybrid formed from Middle English inlighten ("to enlighten, illuminate"), from Old English inlīhtan, onlīhtan, enlīhten ("to enlighten, illuminate, give light to, give sight to") and Middle English lightnen ("to enlighten, illuminate") (equivalent to light +‎ -en). Cognate with Dutch inlichten ("to enlighten, inform"), Old High German inliuhten ("to enlighten, illuminate"), Gothic 𐌹𐌽𐌻𐌹𐌿𐌷𐍄𐌾𐌰𐌽 (inliuhtjan, "to enlighten, illuminate"). More at inlight, -en. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To enlighten is to bring light where there had previously been darkness, to replace opinion, i.e., superstition, by scientific knowledge of nature, beginning from phenomena available to all men and ending in rational demonstration possible for all men.

    THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND

  • ROMULO: My friend, Mr. Ellis will have heard this term: it's called enlighten self-interest.

    CNN Transcript Jun 3, 2001

  • Some voices argue that we need to do a better job of firing youngsters 'imaginations when it comes to teaching history, by using learning tools that excite as well as enlighten - in other words making better use of edutainment, as it's known.

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • I wish I could -- enlighten, that is -- but I'm still baffled as to this condescending attitude of "I can do it myself".

    Modestly Yours

  • In March, Narang began meeting with SEC commissioners to try to "enlighten" them about HFT.

    Fast, Loose, and Out of Control

  • When I said "enlighten" I was only saying, you may get some information that you do not already have that may add to your perspective on the situation, Stroszek.

    House Passes Health Care Bill 220-215

  • While I think this is a great list, and try my best to follow this kind of advice, I have put waaay more effort into "letting it go" when I see infractions than I used to put into helping "enlighten" people who I thought would appreciate it.

    The Essentials Of Email Etiquette | Lifehacker Australia

  • Citizenship, school councils, and the like are all nonsense, brought about by well meaning but naive people who hoped to "enlighten" the next generation to think like them, without realising that they didn't think very much at all and now implemented by people who don't even believe in it.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • You could "enlighten" us with your views on Southerners...

    Sources say Romney will quit.

  • (MDC) said on Saturday it would "enlighten" regional leaders who have dismissed the country's crises as exaggerated.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.