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. (For those who believe it comes from a 1950s "computer kit," fly here, but come back.) 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 1956, but current evidence doesn't show general use of brainiac to refer to a superintelligent person until the 1970s.

Example Sentences

a techie who always has to have the latest gadget that the brainiacs in Silicon Valley have cooked up
Recent Examples on the Web Archie & Pete follows an explosive, rule-breaking, fearless female detective with no filter who enlists the help of a polite and gentle brainiac who studies the biology of evil to solve cases for the Los Angeles Violent Crimes Unit. Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2023 Some geniuses look like the archetypal wunderkind founder or the disheveled tech brainiac—but many great minds don’t fit those rather limited demographic contours. Ross Mccammon, Fortune, 30 Jan. 2023 Jacob was highly coveted by the usual brainiac football schools, earning scholarship offers from Northwestern, Notre Dame and Rutgers. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2022 The Cardinals made a trade to draft a quarterback from UCLA, Josh Rosen, who was hailed as a brainiac, but who turned out to be an overthinker. Greg Moore, The Arizona Republic, 21 Apr. 2022 But if Weddle couldn’t fend off blocks or make tackles, being a brainiac wouldn’t be enough. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Feb. 2022 Now settled in the fictitious Port Oswego, Ore., the congenial brainiac has become popular among students and teachers alike. New York Times, 11 Jan. 2022 But again, there’s probably a whole load more business decisions and brainiac ideas that will probably help that idea flourish. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, 22 Mar. 2021 Familiar tropes get a raucous refresh when an underdog brainiac teams up with misfit dancers to pop-and-lock like a champ. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 21 Dec. 2020 See More

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

Word History


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


Dictionary Entries Near brainiac

Cite this Entry

“Brainiac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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