noun ge·nius \ ˈjēn-yəs , ˈjē-nē-əs \
Updated on: 12 Nov 2017

Definition of genius

plural geniuses or genii play \ˈjē-nē-ˌī\
1 a 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
3 a :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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Examples of genius in a Sentence

  1. Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were great scientific geniuses.

  2. You don't have to be a genius to see that this plan will never work.

  3. He was a genius at handling the press.

  4. She's now widely recognized as an artist of genius.

  5. He's admired for his comic genius.

  6. My plan is simple—that's the genius of it.

  7. The genius of these new computers is their portability.

Recent Examples of genius from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of genius

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

GENIUS Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of genius for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


noun ge·nius \ ˈjēn-yəs \

Definition of genius for Students

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

Medical Dictionary


noun ge·nius \ ˈjē-nyəs, -nē-əs \

medical Definition of genius

plural geniuses or genii play \-nē-ˌī\
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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