genius

noun
ge·​nius | \ ˈjēn-yəs How to pronounce genius (audio) , ˈjē-nē-əs\
plural geniuses or genii\ ˈjē-​nē-​ˌī How to pronounce genii (audio) \

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

It's said that genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Before You Know It Director Hannah Pearl Utt On Learning From Failure," 30 Aug. 2019 Thousands of years ago, some enterprising cook (and total genius) figured out that adding cucumbers to a brine and waiting a while made arguably the world’s favorite way to eat a cucumber. Justin Ward, ExpressNews.com, "How to make simple pickles at home," 7 Aug. 2019 George Best - A flawed genius is how most people remember Best. SI.com, "Sir Matt Busby: The Legendary Scot Who Built Modern Man Utd's All-Time Best XI," 1 Aug. 2019 The genius of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is that this code allows users to deal directly with one another, peer-to-peer, bypassing traditional gatekeepers like banks and regulators. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, "Facebook’s Audacious Pitch for a Global Cryptocurrency," 30 July 2019 So excited for Amy Sherman-Palladino, whose genius is finally on full display. Marcus Jones, EW.com, "Stars react to their 2019 Emmy nominations," 16 July 2019 Robert Gordon, an economist, worries that America’s genius for innovation is flagging. The Economist, "America’s expansion is now the longest on record," 11 July 2019 The genius of puff puff is in the simplicity of the dough. New York Times, "Yewande Komolafe’s 10 Essential Nigerian Recipes," 26 June 2019 Hairstylist Marissa Marino is the genius behind the gorgeous locks of celebs like Selena Gomez and Olivia Holt. Yerin Kim, Seventeen, "Meet the Seventeen Beauty Awards Experts," 17 May 2019

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

9 Sep 2019

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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 How to pronounce genius (audio) \

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 How to pronounce genius (audio) \
plural geniuses or genii\ -​nē-​ˌī How to pronounce genii (audio) \

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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