intellectual

1 of 2

adjective

in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl How to pronounce intellectual (audio)
-chəl,
-shwəl,
-chü(-ə)l
1
a
: of or relating to the intellect or its use
b
: developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience : rational
c
: requiring use of the intellect
intellectual games
2
a
: given to study, reflection, and speculation
b
: engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect
intellectual playwrights
intellectuality noun
intellectually
ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wə-lē How to pronounce intellectual (audio)
-chə-lē
-shwə-lē
-chü(-ə)-lē
adverb
intellectualness
ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl-nəs How to pronounce intellectual (audio)
-chəl-
-shwəl-
-chü(-ə)l-
noun

intellectual

2 of 2

noun

1
: an intellectual person
2
intellectuals plural, archaic : intellectual powers

Examples of intellectual in a Sentence

Adjective the social and intellectual life of the campus as the daughter of college professors, she's used to being around intellectual people Noun He thinks that he's an intellectual, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. She's a hard worker but she's no great intellectual. a café where artists and intellectuals mingle
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
As with the border, the Biden administration will never admit a serious intellectual and policy error on Iran. Rich Lowry, National Review, 4 Feb. 2024 In the long-term, premature babies may develop asthma, dental issues, hearing loss, stomach problems and concerns like intellectual and developmental delays, according to the March of Dimes. Jen Christensen, CNN, 2 Feb. 2024 The idea that Jews would work the land was central to a new Jewish identity different from the intellectual or businessman of the diaspora. Emily Bazelon, New York Times, 1 Feb. 2024 In an intellectual discussion, the use of hyperbole should trigger suspicion in the mind of the reader. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 31 Jan. 2024 Growth which is significant manifests itself rather in intellectual and moral conceptions than in material things. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2024 But this kind of crutch isn’t available for most of the intellectual problems humanity would like to solve. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, 18 Jan. 2024 According to Ava DuVernay’s Origin, this was the thought that went through Isabel Wilkerson’s head, becoming the spark that lit an intellectual three-alarm fire. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 17 Jan. 2024 Here's how celebrity astrologer Kyle Thomas predicts the love lives, careers and intellectual pursuits for Cancer will be impacted in 2024. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 27 Jan. 2024
Noun
Wilson was, in this respect, the perfect exemplar of the ivory-tower intellectual and the gray bureaucrat who moves around real-world human beings like so many pieces on a game board, oblivious to the cost. Dan McLaughlin, National Review, 6 Feb. 2024 But Danielle Wood, a leading anti-colonial space intellectual, simply sees an African people seizing what’s entitled to them under space law through a commercial partnership. Khari Johnson, WIRED, 24 Jan. 2024 Conservatives venerate the building of wealth and political power but see themselves as persecuted by intellectuals and bureaucrats. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2024 One of the most memorable chapters epitomizes her detestation for the ultra-wealthy and pompous intellectuals who rushed to rationalize her work. Carlos Aguilar, Variety, 20 Jan. 2024 But the selective silence of artists, writers, intellectuals: that feels all too familiar. Jason Farago, New York Times, 11 Jan. 2024 The world has lost a poet, an intellectual and a cultural revolutionary. David Chiu, Peoplemag, 7 Dec. 2023 For the thousands of CEOs, billionaires, intellectuals and world leaders descending on Davos, the setting is unrivaled in its potential to spark relationships, dealmaking and big ideas for the year ahead. Chip Cutter and Emily Glazer, WSJ, 15 Jan. 2024 An eight-year-old boy brimming with booby traps offered an answer in 1990 as eloquent as any from a conservative intellectual before or since: his home. Gregory M. Collins, National Review, 27 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'intellectual.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of intellectual was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near intellectual

Cite this Entry

“Intellectual.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intellectual. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

intellectual

1 of 2 adjective
in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al ˌint-ᵊl-ˈek-ch(ə-w)əl How to pronounce intellectual (audio)
1
: relating to the intellect or understanding
2
: having intellect to a high degree : engaged in or given to learning and thinking
an intellectual person
3
: requiring study and thought
intellectual games
intellectuality noun
intellectually adverb

intellectual

2 of 2 noun
: an intellectual person

More from Merriam-Webster on intellectual

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