in·​tu·​i·​tive | \ in-ˈtü-ə-tiv How to pronounce intuitive (audio) , -ˈtyü- \

Definition of intuitive

1 : possessing or given to intuition or insight an intuitive mind
2a : 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
3 : knowing or perceiving by intuition

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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 The interface is simple and intuitive to operate, with crisp, easily readable graphics. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2021 Polestar 2 Goes Light on Style, Big on Tech," 3 Aug. 2020 Google will provide the front-end, intuitive user experiences and financial insights. William Thornton |, al, "BBVA, Google collaborating on digital bank account for 2021," 3 Aug. 2020 The interior was renovated and designed for entertaining with an intuitive flow and a backdrop of the property from many vantage points, said Salmeron. Dallas News, "Henda Salmeron showcases midcentury modern design with pool, spa," 2 Aug. 2020 This might sound counter-intuitive, but see what happens and report back to us. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Drug makers build Covid-19 vaccine supply chains; VCs are still spending on biotechs," 30 July 2020 The results of these studies may seem counter-intuitive. Michael Linden For Cnn Business Perspecitves, CNN, "The argument for cutting the $600 unemployment benefit doesn't add up," 30 July 2020 Young Israelis who have tried Carmel’s computer system—and have been raised on video games—find the system more intuitive and easier to learn. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This Battlefield Tank Comes With an Xbox Controller," 29 July 2020 Some 50 years ago, Nobel-prize-winning author Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote groundbreaking material based on a central thesis: A consistent misperception of the world governs people’s intuitive expectations. Steve Booren, The Denver Post, "Improving Investor Behavior: Blind spots and confirmation bias," 19 July 2020 Ray Kelly, an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said Berkeley’s idea of creating an entirely new transportation department seems costly and counter-intuitive for a city of its size. Brett Simpson,, "Berkeley could ban police from traffic enforcement. Will a new transportation department fix issues?," 10 July 2020

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 2a

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

8 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intuitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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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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