Definition of illustrate in English:


See synonyms for illustrate

Translate illustrate into Spanish

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1Provide (a book, newspaper, etc.) with pictures.

    ‘the guide is illustrated with full-color photographs’
    • ‘To illustrate the Book of Ruth, Merian chose to represent Boaz and Ruth at the threshing floor.’
    • ‘Photographic picture books, illustrating New York and other subjects, proliferated; a number of these featured the work of the new documentary photographers.’
    • ‘John Hodgkiss edited the diverse selection of reportage and portrait photographs illustrating the book.’
    • ‘These publications launched DeCora into a career illustrating books of Indian folktales for children.’
    • ‘The pictures that so richly illustrate the book are often of very great beauty.’
    • ‘They form a set that illustrates the 12 books of Paradise Lost.’
    • ‘He has written several books and has illustrated many more.’
    • ‘We talked about Sidney Nolan, who had illustrated his most recent book, and about Australia.’
    • ‘This book is beautifully colourfully illustrated by Edward Eaves and is lots of fun.’
    • ‘Many artists use collage techniques for illustrating picture books.’
    • ‘The user guides and booklet are illustrated, and for the most part they are well-written.’
    • ‘The book is well illustrated with a number of figures and photographs.’
    • ‘The slim volume is illustrated with photographs of Bainbridge as a wide-eyed ingenue.’
    • ‘While some make their mark illustrating books, magazines, product packaging and so on, grads are also designing video games for the likes of Edmonton's Bioware Corporation.’
    • ‘His website suggests that, as well as a career as a session musician (the musical equivalent of emptying ashtrays), he's started illustrating children's books.’
    • ‘They are very compelling fossils because they are so exact and they're representing animals that I hadn't quite seen before and there's a book illustrating some of their variety.’
    • ‘When he's not writing works of fiction, Gray has also been known to try his hand at radio plays, dramas, short stories, poetry, painting, murals and indeed illustrating his own books.’
    • ‘Her assignments included illustrating George Balanchine's book Complete Stories of the Great Ballets.’
    • ‘I've also made a lot of lithographs, and I've written and illustrated half a dozen books about countries and cities.’
    • ‘It was produced at only a handful of mints, and few specimens are known, but they have been illustrated in countless books and articles.’
    with illustrations, with pictures, with drawings, with sketches, pictorial
    decorate, adorn, ornament, embellish, accompany
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    1. 1.1Explain or make (something) clear by using examples, charts, pictures, etc.
      ‘the results are illustrated in Figure 7’
      • ‘When Touch of Evil was first announced, a documentary explaining and illustrating the changes that resulted from Welles' memo was to have been included with the DVD.’
      • ‘One or two things seem to me underplayed (the great baroque invention of the Duet, for example), but thought has gone into explaining and illustrating most genres.’
      • ‘So let's look at another example as we explain and illustrate the general method.’
      • ‘I'd really like to see a UK version of the Red Tape chart, illustrating the size and scope of the US federal government.’
      • ‘I clicked on an icon, triggering a flow chart that illustrated their organizational relationship.’
      • ‘The charts which illustrate the light curves of variable stars remind me of quilting charts.’
      • ‘So I'm going to try again, this time with some charts to help illustrate the jargon.’
      • ‘There are lengthy charts illustrating the kind of rhetorical strategies used to enhance the literary appeal of the letter to its hearers.’
      • ‘A flow chart illustrating the testing sequence is shown in Figure 2.’
      • ‘The chart above illustrates the saturation pressure for water vapor as a function of the ambient temperature.’
      • ‘Chart 1 illustrates the path of employment in industry, the key exposed sector of the Irish economy.’
      • ‘The chart illustrates the disparity in the incomes of the parties.’
      • ‘The following chart illustrates the finishing position of each champion in the first race of the season.’
      • ‘Rescorla uses network traces and clear diagrams to illustrate the concepts introduced in the text.’
      • ‘Taleb uses this hypothetical experiment, and its results, to illustrate a number of errors in thinking.’
      • ‘This exclusive picture graphically illustrates the decline of Swindon's much beloved Mechanics' Institute.’
      • ‘In her book, Postrel offers diverse examples and stories to illustrate her concepts.’
      • ‘Both books illustrate the way the Suharto family exploited Indonesia.’
      • ‘On a broader level, the book also illustrates the way the trajectories of technological change cannot be taken for granted.’
      • ‘The global perspective is best illustrated by his book, A History of Christianity.’
      explain, elucidate, clarify, make clear, make plain, demonstrate, point up, show, bring home, emphasize, interpret
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    2. 1.2Serve as an example of.
      ‘a collection of pieces that illustrate Bach's techniques’
      • ‘One example will serve to illustrate how comprehensive and penetrating his discernment is.’
      • ‘Three examples can serve to illustrate how a choice of ruler was made and the thinking behind the resources made available to him.’
      • ‘Clearly, this is a grossly simplified example but it serves to illustrate how such a solution is very open to sabotage.’
      • ‘I do hope that this election serves to illustrate to everyone that it is not about them and how they can benefit with a modest tax cut here and there.’
      • ‘The latest employment figures serve to illustrate that little has been done.’
      • ‘All of this serves to illustrate an extraordinary double standard that exists at the heart of public life.’
      • ‘This surely serves to illustrate most clearly why a change is required - so few were the away wins this season, for the majority of teams.’
      • ‘The cases of Lithuania, Uzbekistan, and Russia serve to illustrate why this is the case.’
      • ‘Revealingly, Halberstam's book illustrates several of the shortcomings it purports to dissect.’
      • ‘This has been a massive success and the book sales illustrate this.’
      • ‘Consumer spending statistics on apparel over the past decade illustrates a clear trend.’
      • ‘Wars illustrate the hatred between countries.’
      • ‘The result perfectly illustrated the difference that a millionaire can make to life in the English first division.’
      • ‘Inverness won 4-2, a result that illustrates the changes at this club this season.’
      • ‘A striking example illustrating this pattern is given by tropical and temperate forest trees.’
      • ‘The impact of the falling euro on sales returns is illustrated by the latest results for IBM.’
      • ‘These results illustrate that variation exists in maize for the impact of ploidy on gene expression.’
      • ‘These results illustrate the importance of examining for nonhistorical signals.’
      • ‘These results also illustrate the problems faced by the Labour party.’
      • ‘California's wine scene is one of the best examples to illustrate diversity.’
      exemplify, show, demonstrate, display, instance, encapsulate, represent
      View synonyms



/ˈiləˌstrāt/ /ˈɪləˌstreɪt/


Early 16th century (in the sense ‘illuminate, shed light on’): from Latin illustrat- ‘lit up’, from the verb illustrare, from in- ‘upon’ + lustrare ‘illuminate’.