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

At the turn of the 20th century, the fundamentalist movement arose to protest intellectual and theological changes taking place in Protestant churches. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Historian and author John Fea on Trump’s “court evangelicals” and the long history of Christian nationalism.," 5 Nov. 2018 Yet the notion that a do-over on Brexit would come about because of the pleas of a French intellectual — or Brussels Eurocrats or wealthy outsiders or European newspaper columnists — seems quixotic at best. William Booth And James Mcauley, Washington Post, "Europeans haven’t given up hope that Britain will change its mind on Brexit," 12 June 2018 His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. Gerrad Hall, EW.com, "Famed scientist Stephen Hawking dies at 76," 14 Mar. 2018 His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. Sarah Rense, Esquire, "Here on Earth, Celebrities Wish Stephen Hawking a Place Among the Stars," 14 Mar. 2018 Thomas says, Nick, an intellectual Virgo, blends so superbly with the emotional and sensitive Cancer, Priyanka. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "These Celebrity Couples Will Have the Hottest Valentine's Day, According to their Zodiac Signs," 14 Feb. 2019 Exhibitions pull from the MIT Museum’s collection, which covers a vast intellectual territory with more than one million holograms, films, photographs, technical archives, and objects. Elizabeth Wellington, Condé Nast Traveler, "12 Best Museums in Boston You'll Want To Visit," 17 July 2018 Few children ever learn, however, that the same is true for the inventors and intellectual giants whose distinguished portraits permeate their history textbooks. Isabel Fattal, The Atlantic, "The Value of Failing," 25 Apr. 2018 Despite their smarts, these intellectual giants were evolving thinkers with flaws. Anna Diamond, Smithsonian, "Writing in the Public Eye, These Women Brought the 20th Century Into Focus," 4 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Compliments to president Trump for the seats conquered in the Senate and the confirmation in crucial states, against everything and everyone: leftist journalists, actors and singers, directors and pseudo-intellectuals. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The world was watching the 2018 midterms. Here’s how some countries responded.," 7 Nov. 2018 Christophe Guilluy is a geographer, author and public intellectual in France whose parsing of the country’s... Philip Delves Broughton, WSJ, "‘Twilight of the Elites’ Review: On the Outskirts of ‘Higher France’," 28 Jan. 2019 Conservative intellectuals are currently enjoying a creative alienation from the Republican Party. Jeet Heer, New Republic, "The Lively Irrelevance of Conservative Magazines," 30 Jan. 2018 Ryan is back to being just a conservative intellectual. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Paul Ryan wants you to know he has identified what’s wrong with the Republican Party," 17 Dec. 2018 But as her business gained popularity as a gathering place for black intellectuals, it was also targeted by hate crimes. Cathie Anderson, sacbee, "Carol McNeal, who built a library of black experience at Sacramento bookstore, dies at 86," 10 July 2018 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

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

13 Mar 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 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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