intellectual

adjective
in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al | \ ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl How to pronounce intellectual (audio) , -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 How to pronounce intellectuality (audio) \ noun
intellectually \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wə-​lē How to pronounce intellectually (audio) , -​chə-​lē , -​shwə-​lē , -​chü(-​ə)-​lē \ adverb
intellectualness \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wəl-​nəs How to pronounce intellectualness (audio) , -​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

There are a lot of good guitar players in the world, but Lionel brings his African influences and has a complete intellectual command of jazz and other music. Andrew Gilbert, The Mercury News, "Raul Midón, Lionel Loueke bring special bond to SF Bay Area shows," 14 June 2019 And part of our goal is to recenter the intellectual project at the university. Stephanie Ebbert, BostonGlobe.com, "Harvard dean ousted after Weinstein case to challenge school on academic freedom from within," 13 June 2019 But a callback to seemingly ordinary celebrities who are actually aliens comes off more as intellectual theft than a homage. Scott Craven, Detroit Free Press, "Not even wisecracking alien Pawny can save latest ‘MIB’," 13 June 2019 Triumph came out to a strong start, with contributions from many National Review notables, and even the intellectual titan Christopher Dawson, appearing in the maiden issue. Declan Leary, National Review, "Catholics vs. Libertarians in the 1960s," 11 June 2019 Owned by Quincy Jones and Time Inc., Vibe was designed to compete with The Source while trying to be more grown-up with features on author Toni Morrison, tele-goddess Oprah Winfrey and public intellectual Cornel West. Michael Gonzales, Longreads, "It’s Like That: The Makings of a Hip-Hop Writer," 10 June 2019 While the Multicultural Women’s Book Group does read and discuss books, the group wasn’t meant to be an intellectual study. Dallas News, "Why two Dallas women started a female-only book club about diversity," 5 June 2019 At the start of Booksmart, most of Amy and Molly's classmates find their intellectual personas insufferable. Olivia Fleming, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Booksmart Cast Opens Up About Porn, the Patriarchy, and the Problem of Likability," 25 May 2019 Yet the demise of the Weekly Standard is not exactly a disastrous blow to American intellectual life. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The Weekly Standard’s demise is a reminder that there are some ideas worse than Trumpism," 5 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Beast - Colin Hanks An intellectual who also revels in being a hero, Hank McCoy has learned to become comfortable with his mutation and is the character most likely to form bonds between the X-Men and other heroes. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "Who Can Play the X-Men Now?," 7 June 2019 French intellectuals love little more than predicting revolution and chaos from a boulevard-side table groaning with red wine and fricasseed innards. Philip Delves Broughton, WSJ, "‘Twilight of the Elites’ Review: On the Outskirts of ‘Higher France’," 28 Jan. 2019 Just as intellectuals Daniel Boorstin, Marshall McLuhan and Guy Debord were starting to level critiques against this media environment, Mad was doing the same – but in a way that was widely accessible, proudly idiotic and surprisingly sophisticated. Michael J. Socolow, Smithsonian, "In its Heyday, Mad Magazine Was a Lot More Than Silly Jokes," 11 May 2018 Even exquisitely trained intellectuals like Reid and Fischer can be at sea amid our health-care system. John Timpane, Philly.com, "'Body and Soul' by Panthea Reid: A long love, a long grief, the presence of a soul," 21 Mar. 2018 On the Arab-Israeli conflict, French intellectuals tend to favor the Arabs. Brian Eads, Newsweek, "Are the French Anti-Semitic?," 6 Feb. 2014 Residents of Africatown melded African traditions with American ones, sometimes attracting outside attention from famed American intellectuals like Booker T. Washington and Zora Neale Hurston. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Last American Transatlantic Slave Ship Has Been Found," 23 May 2019 But since the 1980s, many politicians and intellectuals have reinterpreted laïcité to confine all displays of religion to the private sphere. Karina Piser, The New Republic, "Inside France’s Growing Identity War," 29 May 2018 When intellectuals did emerge—like Copernicus, in the vey late Middle Ages, who claimed that earth revolved around the sun—they were dismissed, persecuted, or, at best, ignored. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Notre Dame Is a Cruel Metaphor for Our World Right Now," 25 Apr. 2019

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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Statistics for intellectual

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce intellectual (audio) \

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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Comments on intellectual

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