intellectual

adjective
in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al | \ ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl How to pronounce intellectual (audio) , -chəl, -shwəl, -chü(-ə)l\

Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to the intellect or its use
b : developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience : rational
c : requiring use of the intellect intellectual games
2a : given to study, reflection, and speculation
b : engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect intellectual playwrights

intellectual

noun

Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an intellectual person
2 intellectuals plural, archaic : intellectual powers

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Other Words from intellectual

Adjective

intellectuality \ ˌin-​tə-​ˌlek-​chə-​ˈwa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce intellectuality (audio) \ noun
intellectually \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wə-​lē How to pronounce intellectually (audio) , -​chə-​lē , -​shwə-​lē , -​chü(-​ə)-​lē \ adverb
intellectualness \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wəl-​nəs How to pronounce intellectualness (audio) , -​chəl-​ , -​shwəl-​ , -​chü(-​ə)l-​ \ noun

Examples of intellectual in a Sentence

Adjective

the social and intellectual life of the campus as the daughter of college professors, she's used to being around intellectual people

Noun

He thinks that he's an intellectual, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. She's a hard worker but she's no great intellectual. a café where artists and intellectuals mingle
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Quality, meaningful, intellectual music has no age requirement or barrier. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "The BTS ARMY Called Out People Who Made Racist Comments About a Photo of Suga at a Dodgers Game," 10 May 2019 The South Dakota Supreme Court denied one challenging the state’s method of execution, but a second arguing that Berget lacks the intellectual capacity to receive capital punishment is pending, Jackley said. Dave Kolpack, The Seattle Times, "South Dakota to execute inmate on Monday for guard’s slaying," 26 Oct. 2018 Trump’s limited vocabulary reflects a limited intellectual capacity that gives way to reductive solutions to big problems and tribal phobias that pit us against one another. Stephanie Fairyington, The New Republic, "The Sham of Donald Trump’s Straight Talk," 3 May 2018 Daphna, a fanatical Jewish ideologue, and Liam, an equally zealous secularist, are evenly matched in intellectual capacity and below-the-belt verbal jabs. F. Kathleen Foley, latimes.com, "'Bad Jews' at the Odyssey: High-decibel hilarity," 2 May 2018 But women need actual safe spaces—not from intellectual challenge, of course, but from physical threat of harm from men. Abigail Shrier, WSJ, "The Transgender War on Women," 26 Mar. 2019 Bell had much time to entertain whatever intellectual whimsy flew into his head. Chuck Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The State of American Trade Schools," 13 Mar. 2019 So she's definitely got to be [intellectual], able to go on hikes with him and watch the sunset. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About Noah Centineo's Love Life," 21 Feb. 2019 Psychologists wrote the book on unhealthy aspects of peer pressure, obsessive desire for conformity and acceptance, groupthink and intellectual dishonesty, but seem unable to diagnose and treat their own afflictions. WSJ, "The Doublespeak on Innate Sex Differences," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But since the 1980s, many politicians and intellectuals have reinterpreted laïcité to confine all displays of religion to the private sphere. Karina Piser, The New Republic, "Inside France’s Growing Identity War," 29 May 2018 When intellectuals did emerge—like Copernicus, in the vey late Middle Ages, who claimed that earth revolved around the sun—they were dismissed, persecuted, or, at best, ignored. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Notre Dame Is a Cruel Metaphor for Our World Right Now," 25 Apr. 2019 While Trump remains a divisive figure among conservative intellectuals, the space for debating his merits is dwindling in the right-of-center media. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Scourge of Trumpism in Conservative Journalism," 14 May 2018 These two charming, strollable neighborhoods showcase exquisitely restored Colonial architecture (prime real estate), which became a favorite with bohemians and intellectuals in the 20th century. Mary Kaye Schilling, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Mexico City," 18 Oct. 2016 During that period, extremists hoping to create an Islamic state battled security forces while carrying out village massacres and targeting journalists, intellectuals and foreigners. ___ Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report. Aomar Ouali, The Seattle Times, "Algerian army chief calls for president to be declared unfit," 26 Mar. 2019 Compliments to president Trump for the seats conquered in the Senate and the confirmation in crucial states, against everything and everyone: leftist journalists, actors and singers, directors and pseudo-intellectuals. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The world was watching the 2018 midterms. Here’s how some countries responded.," 7 Nov. 2018 Christophe Guilluy is a geographer, author and public intellectual in France whose parsing of the country’s... Philip Delves Broughton, WSJ, "‘Twilight of the Elites’ Review: On the Outskirts of ‘Higher France’," 28 Jan. 2019 Conservative intellectuals are currently enjoying a creative alienation from the Republican Party. Jeet Heer, New Republic, "The Lively Irrelevance of Conservative Magazines," 30 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intellectual.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of intellectual

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Statistics for intellectual

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for intellectual

The first known use of intellectual was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for intellectual

intellectual

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to the ability to think in a logical way
: involving serious study and thought
of a person : smart and enjoying serious study and thought

intellectual

noun

English Language Learners Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a smart person who enjoys serious study and thought : an intellectual person

intellectual

adjective
in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al | \ ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl How to pronounce intellectual (audio) \

Kids Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of or relating to thought or understanding intellectual development
2 : interested in serious study and thought an intellectual person
3 : requiring study and thought an intellectual challenge

Other Words from intellectual

intellectually \ -​wə-​lē \ adverb

intellectual

noun

Kids Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who takes pleasure in serious study and thought

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Comments on intellectual

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