from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n.pl. People claiming to be unusually enlightened with regard to a subject.
- n.pl. Any of various groups claiming special religious enlightenment.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n.pl. Literally, those who are enlightened.
- n.pl. 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.
- n.pl. 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.
- n.pl. 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.
- n.pl. An obscure sect of French Familists
- n.pl. The Hesychasts, Mystics, and Quietists
- n.pl. The Rosicrucians.
- n.pl. Any persons who profess special spiritual or intellectual enlightenment.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- 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.
Latin illūminātī, from pl. of illūminātus, past participle of illūmināre, to light up; see illuminate.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)