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

Hubris is certainly punished, in the person of Shaw, but reasonableness is also defended, in the person of Roy Scheider, and reinforced in the intellect of Richard Dreyfuss’s character. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Summer of Shark Politics on Cape Cod," 22 Aug. 2019 Young has a precise, strong arm combined with a keen intellect. Eric Sondheimercolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Football preview: Mater Dei High quarterback Bryce Young continues groundbreaking career," 13 Aug. 2019 For example, a Supreme Court justice proclaimed President Roosevelt had a second-rate intellect and a first-class disposition. Pat Kapowich, The Mercury News, "Sponsored: Missing counteroffer creates an appraisal problem; what do buyers do next?," 8 Aug. 2019 Fewer still have the pitching intellect to maximize their use. Tom Verducci,, "The Rare Greatness of Max Scherzer Has Never Been More Evident," 1 July 2019 There is no reason to think that bacteria, slime molds and similar single-cell forms of life have awareness, understanding or other capacities implicit in real intellect. Quanta Magazine, "Seeing the Beautiful Intelligence of Microbes," 13 Nov. 2017 Trump also went on to criticize the intellect of CNN anchor Don Lemon, who co-moderated Tuesday's debate by calling Lemon dumb. Fortune, "Trump Slams CNN Anchor Don Lemon and Democratic Rivals in Post-Debate Twitter Rant," 31 July 2019 For critics, Mr Pompeo’s most fateful recent move has been in the realm of the intellect. B.c., The Economist, "The old American consensus on religious liberty is weakening," 18 July 2019 The answer to the first question might lie with that intellect Brees spoke of. Luke Johnson,, "How does Saints corner Marshon Lattimore take the next step?," 28 June 2019

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

6 Sep 2019

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 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 intellectual (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).


to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
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!