Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun plural People claiming to be unusually enlightened with regard to a subject.
  • noun plural Any of various groups claiming special religious or philosophical enlightenment.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Eccles., persons who had received baptism, in which ceremony a lighted taper was given to them as a symbol of spiritual enlightenment.
  • [capitalized] A name given to different religious societies or sects because of their claim to perfection or enlightenment in religious matters.
  • [capitalized] See Order of the Illuminati, below.
  • In general, persons who affect to possess extraordinary knowledge or gifts, whether justly or not; persons who lay claim to superior knowledge in any department: often used satirically.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun plural Literally, those who are enlightened.
  • noun plural (Eccl.) Persons in the early church who had received baptism; in which ceremony a lighted taper was given them, as a symbol of the spiritual illumination they has received by that sacrament.
  • noun plural (Eccl. Hist.) Members of a sect which sprung up in Spain about the year 1575. Their principal doctrine was, that, by means of prayer, they had attained to so perfect a state as to have no need of ordinances, sacraments, good works, etc.; -- called also Alumbrados, Perfectibilists, etc.
  • noun plural (Mod. Hist.) Members of certain associations in Modern Europe, who combined to promote social reforms, by which they expected to raise men and society to perfection, esp. of one originated in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, professor of canon law at Ingolstadt, which spread rapidly for a time, but ceased after a few years.
  • noun plural An obscure sect of French Familists
  • noun plural The Hesychasts, Mystics, and Quietists
  • noun plural The Rosicrucians.
  • noun plural Any persons who profess special spiritual or intellectual enlightenment.

Etymologies

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

[Latin illūminātī, from pl. of illūminātus, past participle of illūmināre, to light up; see illuminate.]

Examples

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  • "Order of the Illuminati, a celebrated secret society founded by Professor Adam Weishaupt at Ingolstadt in Bavaria in 1776, originally called the Society of the Perfectibilists. It was deistic and republican in principle, aimed at general enlightenment and emancipation from superstition and tyranny, had an elaborate organization, was to some extent associated with freemasonry, and spread widely through Europe, though the Illuminati were never very numerous. The order excited much antagonism, and was suppressed in Bavaria in 1785, but lingered for some time elsewhere."

    --The Century Dictionary of the English Language

    September 9, 2010

  • This group was mentioned in the "Angels And Demons" movie.

    June 12, 2012