brilliant (adj.) Look up brilliant at
"sparkling with light or luster," 1680s, from French brilliant "sparkling, shining" present participle of briller "to shine" (16c.), from Italian brillare "sparkle, whirl," perhaps from Vulgar Latin *berillare "to shine like a beryl," from berillus "beryl, precious stone," from Latin beryllus (see beryl).

Figurative sense of "distinguished by admirable qualities" is from 1848. Of diamonds from 1680s in reference to a flat-topped cut invented 17c. by Venetian cutter Vincenzo Peruzzi. Related: Brilliantly; brilliantness.