in·​tel·​li·​gent·​sia | \ in-ˌte-lə-ˈjen(t)-sē-ə How to pronounce intelligentsia (audio) , -ˈgen(t)- How to pronounce intelligentsia (audio) \

Definition of intelligentsia

: intellectuals who form an artistic, social, or political vanguard or elite

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for intelligentsia


clerisy, literati

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of intelligentsia in a Sentence

a presidential candidate who was the darling of the intelligentsia—and very few others

Recent Examples on the Web

Settling with her family in Chicago, Price made connections with leading figures in the black intelligentsia, including the writer Langston Hughes. Brian Wise, WSJ, "Florence Price in Concert and on Disc: A Harvest of Rediscovery," 5 Dec. 2018 Among the right-wing intelligentsia, the debate over whether Trump authentically represents or has deviated from movement conservatism has been a full-scale rout. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Anti-Trump Right Has Become Trump’s Base," 3 July 2018 The Trump presidency has exerted a gravitational pull on the conservative intelligentsia. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Gangster Morality of Anti-Anti-Trumpism," 30 May 2018 Typically, these questions are left to technologists and to the intelligentsia of related scientific fields. Henry A. Kissinger, The Atlantic, "How the Enlightenment Ends," 15 May 2018 During the 2016 primaries, the right-wing intelligentsia mobilized in opposition to Trump. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives," 6 May 2018 Members of the basketball intelligentsia routinely describe her as one of the game’s top analysts. Noam Scheiber, New York Times, "Doris Burke Has Game," 28 Apr. 2018 Magyar Nemzet was a leading publication of the brief anti-Soviet uprising in 1956 and later, while still under state censorship control, was considered the intelligentsia's newspaper. Fox News, "Hungary: Conservative paper critical of government closing," 10 Apr. 2018 In 1953, the 39-year-old Ortese, a native Roman who had spent much of her life in Naples, published a mixed-genre book (three short stories, two pieces of reportage) that enraged many locals, particularly among the intelligentsia. Ben Downing, WSJ, "‘Neapolitan Chronicles’ Review: Naples Painted Black," 6 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of intelligentsia

1905, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for intelligentsia

Russian intelligentsiya, from Latin intelligentia intelligence

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about intelligentsia

Statistics for intelligentsia

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for intelligentsia

The first known use of intelligentsia was in 1905

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for intelligentsia



English Language Learners Definition of intelligentsia

: a group of intelligent and well-educated people who guide or try to guide the political, artistic, or social development of their society

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on intelligentsia

What made you want to look up intelligentsia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!