intellectual

adjective
in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al | \ ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl, -chəl, -shwəl, -chü(-ə)l\

Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
2a : given to study, reflection, and speculation
b : engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect intellectual playwrights

intellectual

noun

Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from intellectual

Adjective

intellectuality \ ˌin-​tə-​ˌlek-​chə-​ˈwa-​lə-​tē \ noun
intellectually \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wə-​lē , -​chə-​lē, -​shwə-​lē, -​chü(-​ə)-​lē \ adverb
intellectualness \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wəl-​nəs , -​chəl-​, -​shwəl-​, -​chü(-​ə)l-​ \ noun

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

His home Anarres, while a utopia in the eyes of many who cannot live there, stifles his intellectual freedom. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 The pair came out of the University of Chicago and Compass Players/Second City scene, and their humor continued to have an intellectual bent, namechecking Nietzsche and Bartók in the same breath as a Hollywood celebrity. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 16 Dec. 2018 Sanchez said the man allegedly belonged to a local drug gang and identified the gang's leader, his right-hand man and the lieutenant's wife as the purported intellectual authors of the murder. Fox News, "Mexico: Alleged lookout nabbed in murder of Chiapas reporter," 24 Sep. 2018 Like his most famous character, Centineo is not trying to be especially woke, or especially intellectual, or especially artistic, or especially cool. Constance Grady, Vox, "Noah Centineo and the rise of the wholesome internet boyfriend, explained," 28 Sep. 2018 DeWitt is an inventive stylist, a ruthlessly curious intellectual, and a sparkling wit; her stories, accordingly, tend to deal in language, philosophy, and humor before touching plot and character. Brittany Allen, Longreads, "Getting Tricked by Helen DeWitt," 9 July 2018 Wang is the brooding intellectual, troubled by a creative impasse. Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Pluto Moment' ('Ming Wang Xing Shi Ke'): Film Review | Cannes 2018," 23 May 2018 Nostalgia is an intellectual and aesthetic crutch that prevents cultural artifacts from reflecting their own epochs. Dan Duray, ELLE Decor, "Is Nostalgia in the Art World Ever a Good Thing?," 29 Aug. 2018 Children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults, and exposure to lead can severely stunt a child’s intellectual and physical development. Anne Branigin, The Root, "New York City Finally Admits that More than 800 Kids Living in Public Housing Tested High for Lead," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For many young ideological intellectuals, this often led to a worldview in which there seemed to be little choice: either fascism or communism, with no middle ground. Helen Fry, WSJ, "‘Enemies Within’ Review: Traitors to Their Class," 13 Dec. 2018 But through diligent scholarship, a circle of European intellectuals helped distant gardens bloom in new languages. The Economist, "How European scholars first encountered the Arab world," 6 Mar. 2018 The affair led to the Castro regime’s break with leading intellectuals such as Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian. Santiago Pérez, WSJ, "‘Absolute Control’: Cuba Steps Up Artistic Censorship," 25 Dec. 2018 Many texts weren’t just straight translations, but also included prefaces by notable intellectuals that explained the book’s relevance. Amanda Laugesen, Smithsonian, "This Cold War-Era Publishing House Wanted To Share American Values With the World," 13 July 2018 By the second half of the 1990s, the Russian Internet — RuNet — was awash in book digitization projects run by intellectuals, activists and other bibliophiles. Joe Karaganis, Washington Post, "Russia is building a new Napster — but for academic research," 13 July 2018 His second book, this year’s 12 Rules for Life, has become an international bestseller and turned Peterson into one of the world’s most famous, and polarizing, public intellectuals. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Jordan Peterson’s Tired Old Myths," 21 May 2018 Conservative intellectuals are still broadly hostile toward stronger enforcement of antitrust laws, and there's no reason to expect a general conservative rethink of their views of antitrust policy. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Newly elected Republican senator could be Google’s fiercest critic," 24 Nov. 2018 Gershom Scholem, the pioneering scholar of kabbalah, was one of many public intellectuals who felt that Arendt had lost track of the human reality of the Holocaust amid the scintillating twists of her argument. George Prochnik, New York Times, "The Philosopher in Dark Times," 12 Apr. 2018

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

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First Known Use of intellectual

Adjective

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

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for intellectual

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

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More Definitions for intellectual

intellectual

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to the ability to think in a logical way

: involving serious study and thought

of a person : smart and enjoying serious study and thought

intellectual

noun

English Language Learners Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a smart person who enjoys serious study and thought : an intellectual person

intellectual

adjective
in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al | \ ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl \

Kids Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of or relating to thought or understanding intellectual development
2 : interested in serious study and thought an intellectual person
3 : requiring study and thought an intellectual challenge

Other Words from intellectual

intellectually \ -​wə-​lē \ adverb

intellectual

noun

Kids Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who takes pleasure in serious study and thought

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