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From Late Middle English lūminārī, lūminārīe (lamp; source of spiritual light, example of holiness; glory), from Old French luminarie (lamp, lights, lighting; candles; brightness, illumination), variant of luminaire (light fixture) (modern French luminaire), from Medieval Latin lūminārium,[1] from lūmināre (that which gives light; light; lamp; body giving light, especially a heavenly body), from lūmen (light; brightness) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *lewk- (bright; to shine))[2] + -āris (suffix forming adjectives indicating a relationship or a pertaining to).



luminary (plural luminaries)

  1. One who is an inspiration to others; one who has achieved success in their chosen field; a leading light.
    • 2017 September 27, David Browne, “Hugh Hefner, ‘Playboy’ Founder, Dead at 91: Legendary Magazine Editor Helped Spark the Sexual Revolution”, in Rolling Stone[1], archived from the original on 15 March 2018:
      The iconic "Playboy Interview" feature launched in 1962 with future Roots author Alex Haley interviewing Miles Davis ([Hugh] Hefner was a huge jazz aficionado and later founded the Playboy Jazz Festival) and would eventually feature many luminaries, setting the stage for the ongoing joke, "We really read Playboy for the articles."
  2. (archaic) A body that gives light; especially, one of the heavenly bodies.
  3. (archaic) An artificial light; an illumination.


Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ lūminārī(e, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ luminary” (US) / “luminary” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.

Further reading[edit]