intuitive

adjective
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 puts a lot of pressure on this car company’s software: to be both intuitive for the user and capable enough to help plan charging so the EQC is never left wanting. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "The Mercedes-Benz EQC SUV’s best feature are its three USB-C ports," 4 Oct. 2018 Getting the form right isn’t as intuitive as some machines. Lauren Levy, Slate Magazine, "The Best Home Gym Equipment," 1 Jan. 2018 The process is as intuitive as any modern app, though the results are never guaranteed. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "How to Recover Your Data from a Dead Hard Drive," 17 Jan. 2019 No 60 fps playback: Yes Surround sound: No PlayStation Vue was an early favorite because of its intuitive interface, unlimited DVR space, and a robust channel selection with multiple tiers. Chris Welch, The Verge, "The Verge Cord Cutter’s Guide: hardware, software, and services," 20 Dec. 2018 Photo: Gordon Welters for The Wall Street Journal (Originally published Nov. 17, 2017) Carlsen, though, quickly displayed the intuitive and clinical precision that has allowed him to cast an outsize shadow over the game for his years. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Magnus Carlsen Wins World Chess Championship," 28 Nov. 2018 Its lightweight and intuitive controls, make this air purifier a favorite on Amazon. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Air Purifier for a Breath of Fresh Air," 16 Oct. 2018 The probability format is more abstract and less intuitive. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "“Fixed mindsets” might be why we don’t understand statistics," 14 Oct. 2018 Or Sylvester Scarpetti, the greatest, most intuitive 911-call transcriber in the history of the art, whose ego starts to get the better of him as his reputation spreads. Elif Batuman, The New Yorker, "A Public Defender’s Polyphonic Novel of Football and Social Justice," 30 Apr. 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

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for intuitive

The first known use of intuitive was circa 1645

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More Definitions for intuitive

intuitive

adjective

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

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