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
Seated on a bench next to a lot of intellectual loners—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, David Souter, Ginsburg herself—Breyer became a consensus seeker, if not always a consensus builder. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2024 Staying competitive requires an ability to adapt to rapidly evolving business norms, a sense of exploration and intellectual curiosity, and the willingness to keep up-to-speed on the latest innovations. Ebony Flake, Essence, 5 Apr. 2024 By building a business that puts folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities behind the counter, Ratcliffe hopes to inspire local business owners to reframe their beliefs around employing workers with disabilities and, importantly, to consider the benefits of doing so. Kayleigh Ruller, Charlotte Observer, 4 Apr. 2024 Stevenson, a true intellectual brilliant at formal speechmaking, despised the new medium and disparaged it. TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 Someone with so limited a lexicon, and the lack of intellectual curiosity to accrue an adult vocabulary has no business in the White House. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 4 Apr. 2024 This is an intellectual and analytical challenge as much as anything else. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 29 Mar. 2024 And people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face many barriers to the kind of basic self-care people with mild to moderate Covid or flu can maintain with relative ease. Andrew Pulrang, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Keplinger didn't have the common touch and might be seen as rather intellectual and privileged and aloof and out of touch. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 24 Mar. 2024
Noun
Judith Butler, for many years a professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at UC Berkeley, might be among the most influential intellectuals alive today. Katha Pollitt, The Atlantic, 25 Mar. 2024 But Oscar Schwartz’s fascinating Drift essay makes clear that that initial spate of discussion overlooked Isaacson’s own intellectual (d)evolution. Longreads, 15 Mar. 2024 For the rest of her life, Ross maintained (correctly) that Isherwood’s portrayal of her diminished her reputation as an activist and as an intellectual. Adrienne Miller, Vogue, 5 Mar. 2024 The small shop is an urban intellectual’s daydream: there’s ample space for literary speaking events; a few chessboard tables; a secret nook that serves as a children’s section, a tasteful cocktail bar with affordable drinks; small-plate entrées on the horizon. Shomik Mukherjee, The Mercury News, 18 Feb. 2024 This biopic features a middle-aged black intellectual (Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor) traveling the world to discover the source of America’s racial discontent. Armond White, National Review, 24 Jan. 2024 The idea that the extraordinary power of certain tech companies has led to a new world order has been written about by intellectuals and technologists across the globe. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 16 Mar. 2024 Feldman, a polymath and public intellectual at Harvard Law School, picks up more or less where Magid leaves off. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 15 Feb. 2024 An intellectual of his stature writing about the Warriors is like if Mark Twain worked a side gig as a Fangraphs contributor. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 3 Feb. 2024

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 14 Apr. 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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