intellectual disability

noun

: mild to severe impairment in intellectual ability equivalent to an IQ of 70 to 75 or below that is accompanied by significant limitations in social, practical, and conceptual skills (as in interpersonal communication, reasoning, or self-care) necessary for independent daily functioning and that has an onset before age 18

Note: The term intellectual disability is now preferred over mental retardation in medical, educational, and regulatory contexts, as well as in general use. The term mental retardation is increasingly considered offensive, though it was the dominant term into the second decade of the current century.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Holmes has an adult son with an intellectual disability. Margaret Kates | Mkates@al.com, al, 28 Oct. 2022 Ignacia Vasquez, 19, has an intellectual disability and can say only a few words but is physically healthy. Natasha Frost, New York Times, 30 Oct. 2022 There’s the helpful 18-year-old Nathaniel, who has epilepsy; the friendly 17-year-old Natalie, who has an intellectual disability; the doting 15-year-old Naudia, who has developmental delays, all three siblings adopted at once. Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2022 Graham not only has an intellectual disability, but at a young age suffered injuries from a firework accident that left him without his left hand. USA TODAY, 3 Aug. 2022 His lawyers and activists have said Nagaenthran’s IQ was found to be 69, a level recognized as an intellectual disability. NBC News, 27 Apr. 2022 Take Natera, which ran 400,000 tests in 2020 for DiGeorge syndrome, a disorder associated with heart defects and intellectual disability. New York Times, 1 Jan. 2022 Tewksbury has spent his post-Olympic years fighting for people with intellectual disability and for the LGBTQ-plus community. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2022 The house had a living space in the basement intended for Fawcett’s daughter, Abby, who has an intellectual disability, to live in as an adult. oregonlive, 7 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1809, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of intellectual disability was in 1809

Dictionary Entries Near intellectual disability

Cite this Entry

“Intellectual disability.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intellectual%20disability. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

intellectual disability

noun

: mild to severe impairment in intellectual ability accompanied by significant limitations in skills (as in communication, reasoning, or self-care) necessary for independent daily functioning

Medical Definition

intellectual disability

noun

: mild to severe impairment in intellectual ability equivalent to an IQ of 70 to 75 or below that is accompanied by significant limitations in social, practical, and conceptual skills (as in interpersonal communication, reasoning, or self-care) necessary for independent daily functioning and that has an onset before age 18

Note: The term intellectual disability is now preferred over mental retardation in medical, educational, and regulatory contexts, as well as in general use. The term mental retardation is increasingly considered offensive, though it was the dominant term into the second decade of the current century.

… Rosa's Law, which changed references in federal law from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability" and references to a mentally retarded individual to an individual with an intellectual disability. Victor R. Martinez
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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