ge·nius | \ˈjēn-yəs, ˈjē-nē-əs\
plural geniuses or genii\ˈjē-nē-ˌī \

Definition of genius 

1a plural genii : an attendant spirit of a person or place

b plural usually genii : a person who influences another for good or bad He has been accused of being his brother's evil genius.

2 : a strong leaning or inclination : penchant

3a : a peculiar, distinctive, or identifying character or spirit the genius of our democratic government

b : the associations and traditions of a place

c : a personification or embodiment especially of a quality or condition

4 plural usually genii : spirit, jinni

5 plural usually geniuses

a : a single strongly marked capacity or aptitude had a genius for getting along with boys— Mary Ross

b : extraordinary intellectual power especially as manifested in creative activity

c : a person endowed with extraordinary mental superiority especially : a person with a very high IQ

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Choose the Right Synonym for genius

gift, faculty, aptitude, bent, talent, genius, knack mean a special ability for doing something. gift often implies special favor by God or nature. the gift of singing beautifully faculty applies to an innate or less often acquired ability for a particular accomplishment or function. a faculty for remembering names aptitude implies a natural liking for some activity and the likelihood of success in it. a mechanical aptitude bent is nearly equal to aptitude but it stresses inclination perhaps more than specific ability. a family with an artistic bent talent suggests a marked natural ability that needs to be developed. has enough talent to succeed genius suggests impressive inborn creative ability. has no great genius for poetry knack implies a comparatively minor but special ability making for ease and dexterity in performance. the knack of getting along

The Spiritual Origins of Genius

The belief system of the ancient Romans included spirits that were somewhere in between gods and humans and were thought to accompany each person through life as a protector. The Latin name for this spirit was genius, which came from the verb gignere, meaning "to beget." This sense of "attendant spirit" was first borrowed into English in the 14th century. Part of such a spirit's role was to protect a person's moral character, and from that idea an extended sense developed in the 16th century meaning "an identifying character." In time, that meaning was extended to cover a special ability for doing something, and eventually genius acquired senses referring particularly to "very great intelligence" and "people of great intelligence."

Examples of genius in a Sentence

Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were great scientific geniuses. You don't have to be a genius to see that this plan will never work. He was a genius at handling the press. She's now widely recognized as an artist of genius. He's admired for his comic genius. My plan is simple—that's the genius of it. The genius of these new computers is their portability.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Her genius has inspired HBO to offer her production deals for two more shows., "Issa Rae Finally Got An Emmy Nod & I Can't Stop Crying," 12 July 2018 Some England fans, however, have demonstrated their creative genius by unleashing some hilarious memes on various social media sites., "It's Coming Home: 6 of the Best England World Cup Memes of the Summer So Far," 11 July 2018 But as Marvel continues to dig into its rich comic-book universe for its movies, particularly Doctor Strange (whom Ditko created), more people than ever are watching stories inspired by his genius. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "How Spider-Man: Homecoming paid homage to Steve Ditko," 7 July 2018 And given our razzle-dazzle genius for self-promotion, there’s something ever more virtuously old-fashioned in this 76-year-old artist who has chosen to address her public by releasing a novel every few years. Brad Leithauser, WSJ, "‘Clock Dance’ Review: The Family Maker," 6 July 2018 Yet, Ronaldo and Messi are gone and here’s Neymar carrying the team now favored to win the World Cup—a team that, by all appearances, respectfully defers to his genius and takes genuine pleasure in his success. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Annoying Genius Who Makes the World Cup Worth Watching," 5 July 2018 The whole release and all that, that was their genius. Nolan Feeney, Billboard, "Beyoncé and JAY-Z Collaborators Cool & Dre Detail the Last-Minute Making of 'Everything Is Love'," 18 June 2018 Most artists love talking about themselves, their creations, their genius. Elyse Inamine, Bon Appetit, "The Mysterious World of Burrow, a Japanese Bakery Hiding In an Office Lobby," 13 June 2018 Anthony is already sold on his genius, and as the two make discoveries about the poet and one another, their relationship blooms. Special To The Oregonian,, "Walt Whitman poem brings two teens together in witty, insightful 'I and You'," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'genius.' 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 genius

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for genius

Latin, tutelary spirit, natural inclinations, from gignere to beget

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Phrases Related to genius

a stroke of genius

Statistics for genius

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for genius

The first known use of genius was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for genius



English Language Learners Definition of genius

: a very smart or talented person : a person who has a level of talent or intelligence that is very rare or remarkable

: a person who is very good at doing something

: great natural ability : remarkable talent or intelligence


ge·nius | \ˈjēn-yəs \

Kids Definition of genius

1 : a very smart or gifted person

2 : great natural ability He has artistic genius.

3 : a very clever or smart quality The lads came … chattering all the time about Tom's stupendous plan and admiring the genius of it.— Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer


ge·nius | \ˈjē-nyəs, -nē-əs \
plural geniuses or genii\-nē-ˌī \

Medical Definition of genius 

1 : extraordinary intellectual power especially as manifested in creative activity

2 : a person endowed with transcendent mental superiority specifically : a person with a very high IQ

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Comments on genius

What made you want to look up genius? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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