intuitive

adjective
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

Even consumers with limited literacy can use WhatsApp’s simple, intuitive interface for messaging, and payments are just another step. Newley Purnell, WSJ, "India’s Top Payments App Faces Challenge From Google and WhatsApp," 12 Nov. 2018 Parents can also manage and monitor things like usage time and appropriate content via an intuitive parental control interface. Alexandria Haslam, PCWorld, "Amazon's new Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet is 30% off and designed to keep children safe online," 2 Oct. 2018 The vertical steam function is very strong and all of the controls were intuitive and easy to use. Sarah Bogdan, Good Housekeeping, "5 Best Cordless Irons to Buy in 2019, According to Cleaning Experts," 15 Feb. 2019 Version numbers are intuitive and widely understood. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "Wi-Fi now has version numbers, and Wi-Fi 6 comes out next year," 3 Oct. 2018 The roughly 15-minute experience is intuitive and is basically a high-tech shoot-em-up. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, "Star Wars virtual reality at the Void in Disney World and Disneyland," 22 May 2018 In the campaign images the models are still wearing minimal skin makeup, and the products all seem fairly intuitive to use (glitter doesn't require the same amount of skill level as contouring), so the OG brand's DNA is still there. Glamour, "I Wore Glossier Play for a Night Out—Here’s How It Held Up," 28 Mar. 2019 Return to this knowledge right now, and tap into an intuitive sense of your own next steps. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Monthly Lovescopes April 2018," 27 Mar. 2018 In their book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works, registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch write about how to get back in touch with these cues and to use intuitive eating to make peace with food. SELF, "PSA: Healthy Eating Should Include Mental and Social Health, Too.," 11 Jan. 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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Statistics for intuitive

Last Updated

19 May 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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Comments on intuitive

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