in·​tu·​i·​tive in-ˈtü-ə-tiv How to pronounce intuitive (audio)
: possessing or given to intuition or insight
an intuitive mind
: known or perceived by intuition : directly apprehended
had an intuitive awareness of his sister's feelings
: knowable by intuition
intuitive truths
: based on or agreeing with intuition
intuitive responses
makes intuitive sense
: readily learned or understood
software with an intuitive interface
: knowing or perceiving by intuition
intuitively adverb
intuitiveness noun

Did you know?

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The overall setup is very intuitive with easy-to-follow instructions. L.a. Hubilla, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2023 In them, Smith found a new, intuitive way of tapping into joys that slipped away from her, like her love for playing piano. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 20 Sep. 2023 The approach allowed Greer to work in an intuitive way, incorporating sounds that interested her into a sonic canvas. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2023 His approach was visual and intuitive, leading to all models receiving a slightly different shape. India Espy-Jones, Essence, 14 Sep. 2023 The company appears focused on AI that is intuitive not generative, making artificial intelligence a part of your life that smoothes over glitches or offers helpful predictions without being intrusive. Khari Johnson, WIRED, 13 Sep. 2023 The sun’s alignment with Mercury tunes your intuitive antennae. USA TODAY, 6 Sep. 2023 Given the rapidity with which fire spreads, taking time to first call 911 seems counter intuitive. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 7 Sep. 2023 There’s something intuitive about the idea that a beloved food, something as simple as a hot dog, could have a similar animating effect—perhaps activating dormant neurons, or providing a tether of continuity to one’s past. Peggy Orenstein, The New Yorker, 5 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'intuitive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see intuition

First Known Use

circa 1645, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of intuitive was circa 1645

Dictionary Entries Near intuitive

Cite this Entry

“Intuitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: knowing or understanding by intuition
an intuitive person
: having or characterized by intuition
an intuitive mind
: known or understood by intuition
intuitive knowledge
intuitively adjective
intuitiveness noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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