in·​tu·​i·​tive | \ in-ˈtü-ə-tiv How to pronounce intuitive (audio) , -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 Some are intuitive or common knowledge, while others aren't. Jenna Scatena, Condé Nast Traveler, "Visiting Abu Dhabi: What to Know Before You Go," 11 Nov. 2019 The younger Trudeau, though less introspective, less intellectual and less intuitive, is also likely to make mid-course corrections. David Shribman, Los Angeles Times, "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau loses his sheen — and his majority," 22 Oct. 2019 Many of your female characters from previous books have intuitive and magical powers. Denise Davidson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Author Alice Hoffman tells World War II story in fairy tale form," 20 Oct. 2019 Instead of spending hours dealing with a clunky interface and learning how to navigate between devices, this storage option is intuitive and simple. NBC News, "4 cloud storage deals that will make you ditch iCloud & Dropbox," 3 Sep. 2019 The signal is similarly strong, pairing is easy, and typical use is intuitive. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "Can Apple's New AirPods Pro Handle a Cross-Country Flight?," 5 Nov. 2019 To talk about restoring the atmosphere is more intuitive. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "A controversial climate plan to restore a safe atmosphere debuts at the UN," 18 Sep. 2019 Sliding your finger to open the drawer menu is more intuitive. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Google will make another big improvement to Android Q’s gesture navigation before release," 3 July 2019 The device is made better by Google's most recent Chrome OS updates, which make all Chromebooks significantly more intuitive to use in tablet mode thanks to more tappable elements, the new launcher tablet home screen, and other new features. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: How to buy a Chromebook, plus our best picks," 7 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for intuitive

Time Traveler

The first known use of intuitive was circa 1645

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Statistics for intuitive

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Intuitive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for intuitive


How to pronounce intuitive (audio)

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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Comments on intuitive

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heavy with or as if with moisture

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