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

For a provocateur, a person more interested in attention-grabbing than serious intellectual work, that’s a death sentence. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Death of a provocateur," 30 Nov. 2018 Malcolm Kerr was a professor at UCLA who exposed his four children to other cultures and a wide spectrum of political and intellectual points of view. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "Steve Kerr’s other team: East Bay students headed for college," 5 June 2018 Our broader intellectual culture - through all the institutions that sustain it - is now being subjected to these same pressures, where race and gender are openly made central to the project of reporting, of thinking, and of writing. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "A Democracy Disappears," 13 Apr. 2018 Project Hawking's intellectual growth over the next 20 years and the possibilities are almost limitless; do the same with his physical deterioration and . . Jerry Adler, Newsweek, "Stephen Hawking, Master of the Universe: Our 1988 Cover Story on the Legendary Physicist," 14 Mar. 2018 Everything political or intellectual was fair game for discussion at these salons. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Like a generation of women, my unwed birth mother kept a lifelong secret: Me," 8 Mar. 2018 The other worry was simply about the implications of such a flagrantly unfit man, so seemingly incapable of emotional, moral, or intellectual growth, holding a high office. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump’s bizarre post-election press conference, explained," 7 Nov. 2018 In fact, the only bright spot in Piers Morgan’s social media presence is that most of his attempts at pseudo-intellectual machismo end up being spectacular self-owns. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Dad Twitter Comes for Piers Morgan’s Dumb Tweet," 16 Oct. 2018 And while Gehry is the consummate intellectual, who can forget that infamous photo of him flipping the bird at a reporter? Diana Budds, Curbed, "Based on your zodiac sign, what should your Halloween costume be?," 10 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 This stance makes him exceptional among Latin American intellectuals, many of whom are still bewitched by anti-imperialism and socialism. The Economist, "Mario Vargas Llosa explains why his politics changed," 26 Apr. 2018 Other ballparklike options include the first-rate fish and chips, dusted with malt-vinegar powder and served with sauce gribiche (tartar sauce for intellectuals). Phil Vettel, chicagotribune.com, "Review: Will Wentworth's cooking at Mordecai earn him another Michelin star?," 8 June 2018 At parties, the New York intellectuals relished trading barbs and jabs. Anna Diamond, Smithsonian, "Writing in the Public Eye, These Women Brought the 20th Century Into Focus," 4 Apr. 2018 His single-mindedness marked his friendships with the leading artists and intellectuals in his milieu, including Picasso. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Giacometti’s Skinny Sublimity," 6 June 2018 The coalition is made up of leftist intellectuals but also far-right evangelicals and old-time members of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Kate Linthicum, latimes.com, "Five challenges that lie ahead for Mexico's next president," 2 July 2018 An accomplished poet and artist, Liu Xia joins several other fellow friends and Chinese intellectuals in exile in Berlin. Suyin Haynes / Taipei, Time, "One Year on From His Death, Taiwan Remembers Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo," 13 July 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

18 Dec 2018

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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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