illuminati


< /ɪˌlu məˈnɑ toʊ, -ˈneɪ-/.

  1. persons possessing, or claiming to possess, superior enlightenment.
  2. (initial capital letter) a name given to different religious societies or sects because of their claim to superior enlightenment.

pl n singular -to (-təʊ)

  1. a group of persons claiming exceptional enlightenment on some subject, esp religion

pl n singular -to (-təʊ)

  1. any of several groups of illuminati, esp in 18th-century France
  2. a group of religious enthusiasts of 16th-century Spain who were persecuted by the Inquisition
  3. a masonic sect founded in Bavaria in 1778 claiming that the illuminating grace of Christ resided in it alone
  4. a rare name for the Rosicrucians
n.

1590s, plural of Latin illuminatus “enlightened” (in figurative sense), past participle of illuminare (see illumination). Originally applied to a 16c. Spanish sect (the Alumbrados), then to other sects; since 1797 used as a translation of German Illuminaten, name of a secret society founded 1776 in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and holding deistic and republican principles; hence used generally of free-thinkers and sarcastically of those professing intellectual enlightenment (1816). Related: Illuminatism; illuminatist.

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