genius

noun
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

Below, check out how a few bloggers who really delivered on pure genius: The future is looking bright for this young girl, whose mom used one large box to create a magical booth. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "People Are Making DIY Halloween Costumes Out of Amazon Boxes — and They're Pretty Amazing," 22 Oct. 2018 Many of Peterson’s fans reassure themselves that there’s a seam of genius here buried beyond their reach, that there’s so much damn context that even a true believer can only ever see it all through a glass, darkly. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 Leave No Trace doesn’t fall into the same trap of needing to present Tom as a child genius come in from the woods. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "'Leave No Trace' Is Brutally Honest About Rewilding," 28 June 2018 And what of the genius who gave us those minutes of extreme emotions that day on a Mexican football pitch. CNN, "How Diego Maradona redefined football in the space of less than five minutes," 11 June 2018 Ultimately, the disclaimer just added to the hype around the video and became an accidental stroke of marketing genius, even though it was only created to assuage Jackson himself. Aja Romano, Vox, "Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is the eternal Halloween bop — and so much more," 31 Oct. 2018 Bringing real-life science experiences to school children could be just the splash of genius local aquariums and educators need. Melissa Reinert, Cincinnati.com, "Science makes a splash at Cincinnati Public Schools," 5 June 2018 Purely on a storytelling level, the disruption in both time and place initially feels like a stroke of genius. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Happy as Lazzaro' ('Lazzaro Felice'): Film Review | Cannes 2018," 13 May 2018 Gucci's mad genius creative director Alessandro Michele is still designing plenty of Styles' suits, but the vibe is wholly different this time around. Megan Gustashaw, GQ, "Harry Styles Is Dressing Like Michael Jackson Now," 13 Apr. 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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Last Updated

2 Dec 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

genius

noun

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

genius

noun
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

genius

noun
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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