1. highly distinguished; renowned; famous: an illustrious leader.
  2. glorious, as deeds or works: many illustrious achievements.
  3. Obsolete. luminous; bright.


  1. of great renown; famous and distinguished
  2. glorious or greatillustrious deeds
  3. obsolete shining

1560s, from Latin illustris “lighted, bright, brilliant;” figuratively “distinguished, famous,” probably a back-formation from illustrare “embellish, distinguish, make famous” (see illustration). Sometimes also illustrous. Replaced illustre in same sense (mid-15c.), from Middle French illustre.

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