in·​tel·​lect | \ ˈin-tə-ˌlekt How to pronounce intellect (audio) \

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 But certain of its weaknesses are characteristic of a writer who sometimes let intellect and adrenaline outpace attention to the messier aspects of her creations’ inner lives. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, "How Octavia E. Butler Reimagines Sex and Survival," 8 Mar. 2021 Captain Renault is not an intellect or a man of principle. Roger Valdez, Forbes, "Housing Debate Shows Why Capitalism Needs No Defense," 2 Mar. 2021 All that said, Bettany is superb, infusing Frank’s hide-and-seek personality with an affecting mix of fear, anger, contempt, empathy, intellect and a kind of take-your-lumps dignity. Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Strong performances can’t redeem Alan Ball’s heavy-handed ‘Uncle Frank’," 24 Nov. 2020 Brenda Jeanne Brumfield was a jack of all trades: a whiz at Jeopardy who inspired her children with her intellect and sage advice., "Help support local journalism like this," 11 Mar. 2021 But intellect and emotion are very different things... Terry Pluto, cleveland, "Be strong? Be courageous? That’s not me, not now! – Terry Pluto’s Faith & You," 6 Mar. 2021 Molly Graham, who was working on mobile strategy at Facebook when Taylor joined the group, remembers him arriving with an intimidatingly swift intellect. Owen Thomas,, "Salesforce’s Marc Benioff is betting $28 billion on Bret Taylor. So who is he?," 20 Dec. 2020 Washington said he was attracted to his character's intellect and love of craft. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, "'Malcolm & Marie' director reveals origins of buzzy film," 4 Feb. 2021 That tutelage could pay off for a player whose intellect should play well at center. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "What Josh Myers’ NFL Draft decision means for Ohio State football: Buckeyes 2021," 15 Jan. 2021

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

Time Traveler for intellect

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for intellect

Last Updated

1 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Intellect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 How to pronounce intellect (audio) \

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 How to pronounce intellect (audio) \

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 How to pronounce intellect (audio) \ 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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