in·​tel·​lect | \ˈin-tə-ˌlekt \

Definition of intellect 

1a : the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will : the capacity for knowledge

b : the capacity for rational or intelligent thought especially when highly developed

2 : a person with great intellectual powers

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of intellect in a Sentence

She is a woman of superior intellect. She has a sharp intellect. We were required to read a book every week in order to develop our intellects. music that appeals to the intellect while still satisfying the emotions
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Ford's intellect and deep knowledge of her field of psychology also did not go unnoticed. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Women Shared Their Reactions to Christine Blasey Ford's Powerful Testimony on Twitter," 27 Sep. 2018 For some, however, intellect is a number one priority. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "What is Sapiosexuality?," 12 Oct. 2018 Our family values education a lot and curiosity and intellect, but never at the expense of creativity. Harper's BAZAAR, "Crazy Rich Couture," 15 Aug. 2018 The Soane Museum Tucked in a small square off of High Holborn, the Soane Museum was the former home of the architect Sir John Soane, who lead a circle of English artists and intellects at the beginning of the 19th century. Emily Selter, Town & Country, "London Travel Guide: The Best Things to Do, See, Eat, and More," 7 Aug. 2018 During Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the bench, Judge Kozinski praised his former clerk not only for his intellect but for his personality. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Who Is Brett Kavanaugh?," 9 July 2018 Targets include the Texas Legislature—which in 2016 permitted concealed weapons on public university campuses—as well as the administration’s aversion to expertise, its favoring of instinct over intellect. Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek, "What Is College Good For? Absolutely Nothing, Say Republicans (and Some Democrats)," 1 Feb. 2018 His work ethic, intellect, and dedication would be difficult to match. Travis Andersen,, "Bristol and Suffolk prosecutors who worked on Aaron Hernandez cases win awards," 23 May 2018 Beyond simply delighting the ear and intellect, his aim seemed to be to generate excitement, to yield to the music's effusion and keep listeners in a state of breathless engagement. Zachary Lewis,, "Cleveland Orchestra's 'Prometheus Project' gets off to fiery start: review," 11 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of intellect

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

History and Etymology for intellect

Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin intellectus, from intellegere to understand — more at intelligent

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about intellect

Statistics for intellect

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for intellect

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for intellect



English Language Learners Definition of intellect

: the ability to think in a logical way

: a very smart person : a person whose intellect is well developed


in·​tel·​lect | \ˈin-tə-ˌlekt \

Kids Definition of intellect

1 : the ability to think and understand She has a superior intellect.

2 : a person with great powers of thinking and reasoning


in·​tel·​lect | \ˈint-ᵊl-ˌekt \

Medical Definition of intellect 

1 : the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will : the capacity for knowledge

2 : the capacity for rational or intelligent thought

Other Words from intellect

intellectual \ˌint-​ᵊl-​ˈek-​ch(ə-​w)əl, -​ˈeksh-​wəl \ adjective
intellectually adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on intellect

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


a knickknack or trinket

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!