brainiac

noun

brain·​i·​ac ˈbrā-nē-ˌak How to pronounce brainiac (audio)
: a very intelligent person

Did you know?

As Superman fans know, Brainiac was the superintelligent villain in the Action Comics series and its spin-offs. His name is a portmanteau of brain and maniac. You don't need x-ray vision to see the connection here—etymologists think Superman's brainy adversary is the likely inspiration for the common noun brainiac. The term was not coined right away though. The comic-book series was launched in 1938 and the character Brainiac debuted in 1958, but current evidence doesn't show general use of brainiac to refer to a superintelligent person until the 1970s.

Examples of brainiac in a Sentence

a techie who always has to have the latest gadget that the brainiacs in Silicon Valley have cooked up
Recent Examples on the Web The company hired a team of brainiacs and gave them latitude to pursue research questions in service of the perfect brew. Jack Murtagh, Scientific American, 25 May 2024 The bright-eyed Redmayne really fits the part of a brainiac – especially in a story about one of our greatest minds. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 11 Mar. 2024 All this attaches the show’s brainiac spectacle to big humanistic ideas. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 20 Mar. 2024 Parrots and corvids have reputations as the brainiacs of the bird world. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 27 Jan. 2023 Pop culture brainiacs, get excited — a new way to watch PEOPLE Puzzler is just around the corner. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 24 Aug. 2023 Tech brainiacs specializing in artificial intelligence are commanding salaries of $900K, the Wall Street Journal recently reported. Robert Gavin, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Aug. 2023 That was before the state became better known for brainiacs huddled in labs than workers toiling on assembly lines. Robert Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, 13 July 2023 The bulk of the movie takes place in 1955 in the remote fictional desert town of Asteroid City, the site of the annual Junior Stargazers convention honoring a bunch of teenage brainiacs. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'brainiac.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

probably from Brainiac, superintelligent villain in the Superman comic-book series

First Known Use

1975, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of brainiac was in 1975

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Cite this Entry

“Brainiac.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brainiac. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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