in·tu·i·tive | \in-ˈtü-ə-tiv, -ˈtyü-\

Definition of intuitive 

1a : known or perceived by intuition : directly apprehended had an intuitive awareness of his sister's feelings

b : knowable by intuition intuitive truths

c : based on or agreeing with intuition intuitive responses makes intuitive sense

d : readily learned or understood software with an intuitive interface

2 : knowing or perceiving by intuition

3 : possessing or given to intuition or insight an intuitive mind

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Other Words from intuitive

intuitively adverb
intuitiveness noun

Does intuitive have anything to do with a sixth sense?

Nowadays, we often see intuitive used in contexts pertaining to technology that is easy to understand. A smartphone with an “intuitive interface” is one that doesn't need much explaining; you can usually figure out how it works as soon as you fire it up.

The related noun intuition, meanwhile, describes a feeling of knowing or understanding something without evident rational thought and inference. A parent's intuition might tell him or her that a child is in danger, even if there is no logical reason to believe so.

So does intuitive have anything to do with what is often called the sixth sense? Well, the sixth sense is defined as "a keen intuitive power." It is synonymous with ESP or extrasensory perception. As its name implies, ESP describes a purported ability to know something that cannot be known by normal use of the senses.

The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) used the term intuitive substage to refer to the stage of cognitive development when children have acquired a vast amount of knowledge but have not considered how they acquired it, so they accept it as true.

An interface is intuitive because it makes sense according to what we expect from how older interfaces are designed. A parent's intuitive sense of danger may still be prompted by subtle hints that things just aren't as they should be, even if the parent cannot identify exactly how. So while sixth sense refers to the ability to acquire knowledge from beyond the five senses, intuitive tends to apply more to knowledge absorbed through experience, even when not immediately recognized as such.

Examples of intuitive in a Sentence

The controls of an airplane are intuitive. Push to nose down, pull to nose up, turn left, turn right. — Stephan Wilkinson, Popular Science, December 2002 … but most of the literature was political rather than scientific, more interested in … exalting the irrational and intuitive over the rational and quantifiable. — Paddy Chayefsky, Artificial Paradises, (1978) 1999 Galileo had made an intuitive jump to what we now call Newton's first law of motion: a body in motion tends to remain in motion. — Leon Lederman et al., The God Particle, 1993 She has an intuitive mind. a doctor with an intuitive awareness of his patients' concerns The argument makes intuitive sense. The software has an intuitive interface.
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Recent Examples on the Web

That was a problem that was exposed in the data, but the solution wasn't intuitive. Brian Resnick, Vox, "How data scientists are using AI for suicide prevention," 8 June 2018 Keys has had some strong results on clay — including reaching the finals of tournaments in Charleston, S.C., and Rome — but still finds the slow surface the least intuitive for her aggressive playing style. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens Have Parallel Lives on a Collision Course," 3 June 2018 Now is the time for all counter-intuitive investors to buy Facebook stock. Graeme Mcmillan, WIRED, "While You Were Offline: Hey Facebook, Analyze This," 25 Mar. 2018 Issues of safety and protection on the one hand, and inclusion, acceptance, and diversity on the other are dominating the cultural conversation, and fashion’s most intuitive talents are picking up on it. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top 12 Collections of Fall 2018," 8 Mar. 2018 Sherlock is analytical, not a quality that women are always thought to have, while Watson is more intuitive. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "Where to find an unusual, offbeat show? How about in this dress shop? Coming up: ‘Sherlock’," 17 Apr. 2018 The driver area is smartly designed as an intuitive command center with a tall 40 inches of front headroom. Mark Maynard,, "2018 Kia Niro PHEV: The future of plug-and-play," 13 July 2018 This is an intuitive way to appeal to low-information voters, who may not have a lot of information about where candidates stand on every issue but do have a sense of whether things went well or poorly under different administrations. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Poll: Barack Obama Was the Greatest President of Our Lifetime," 11 July 2018 Spouses take turns shielding one another from wind and rain; there’s an intuitive sense of when it’s time to hold back or advance. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "Pedaling Uphill, on a Bike and in a Marriage," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intuitive.' 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 intuitive

circa 1645, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for intuitive

see intuition

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Statistics for intuitive

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for intuitive

The first known use of intuitive was circa 1645

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More Definitions for intuitive



English Language Learners Definition of intuitive

: having the ability to know or understand things without any proof or evidence : having or characterized by intuition

: based on or agreeing with what is known or understood without any proof or evidence : known or understood by intuition

: agreeing with what seems naturally right

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More from Merriam-Webster on intuitive

Spanish Central: Translation of intuitive

Nglish: Translation of intuitive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intuitive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on intuitive

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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