genius

1 of 2

noun

ge·​nius ˈjēn-yəs How to pronounce genius (audio)
ˈjē-nē-əs
plural geniuses or genii ˈjē-nē-ˌī How to pronounce genius (audio)
1
a
plural genii : an attendant spirit of a person or place
b
plural usually genii : a person who influences another for good or bad
He has been accused of being his brother's evil genius.
2
: a strong leaning or inclination : penchant
3
a
: a peculiar, distinctive, or identifying character or spirit
the genius of our democratic government
b
: the associations and traditions of a place
c
: a personification or embodiment especially of a quality or condition
4
plural usually genii : spirit, jinni
5
plural usually geniuses
a
: a single strongly marked capacity or aptitude
… had a genius for getting along with boys … Mary Ross
b
: extraordinary intellectual power especially as manifested in creative activity
c
: a person endowed with extraordinary mental superiority
especially : a person with a very high IQ

genius

2 of 2

adjective

informal
: showing or suggesting great cleverness, skill, or originality : brilliant
Remember how genius Henry Winkler was on Arrested Development? Entertainment Weekly
"I think Lindsey Buckingham's guitar playing is genius, and Stevie Nicks' voice is really unusual." Justin Hawkins
As "genius" as the New York raver kids may be, it's in Britain that the mixing of fashion and club music in the nineties is at its most exciting. Vogue

Did you know?

The Spiritual Origins of Genius

The belief system of the ancient Romans included spirits that were somewhere in between gods and humans and were thought to accompany each person through life as a protector. The Latin name for this spirit was genius, which came from the verb gignere, meaning "to beget." This sense of "attendant spirit" was first borrowed into English in the 14th century. Part of such a spirit's role was to protect a person's moral character, and from that idea an extended sense developed in the 16th century meaning "an identifying character." In time, that meaning was extended to cover a special ability for doing something, and eventually genius acquired senses referring particularly to "very great intelligence" and "people of great intelligence."

Choose the Right Synonym for genius

gift, faculty, aptitude, bent, talent, genius, knack mean a special ability for doing something.

gift often implies special favor by God or nature.

the gift of singing beautifully

faculty applies to an innate or less often acquired ability for a particular accomplishment or function.

a faculty for remembering names

aptitude implies a natural liking for some activity and the likelihood of success in it.

a mechanical aptitude

bent is nearly equal to aptitude but it stresses inclination perhaps more than specific ability.

a family with an artistic bent

talent suggests a marked natural ability that needs to be developed.

has enough talent to succeed

genius suggests impressive inborn creative ability.

has no great genius for poetry

knack implies a comparatively minor but special ability making for ease and dexterity in performance.

the knack of getting along

Example Sentences

Noun Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were great scientific geniuses. You don't have to be a genius to see that this plan will never work. He was a genius at handling the press. She's now widely recognized as an artist of genius. He's admired for his comic genius. My plan is simple—that's the genius of it. The genius of these new computers is their portability. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The range of possibilities in my head right now is too vast: Maybe Colts owner Jim Irsay is a genius and Saturday is a really good football coach? Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Nov. 2022 In the film, Thorne’s Riri is a MIT genius who will play an important role in the MCU moving forward. Angelique Jackson, Variety, 11 Nov. 2022 And inserting Phillips, the 6-foot-5, 266-pound monster onto the punt block team was genius. Joe Schad, USA TODAY, 7 Nov. 2022 His gamble may be genius if the shortage affects Northeast Ohio. Paris Wolfe, cleveland, 14 Oct. 2022 The Weeknd is genius, Ryan Gosling knows the secret of engaging people, David Cronenberg made Eastern Promises, Denis Villeneuve made Sicario, and James Cameron really nailed the soul of Schwarzenegger in Terminator. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Sep. 2022 Renowned makeup artist Pat McGrath lent her creative genius to Taylor Swift's latest music video for Bejeweled, and the results are dazzling, to say the least. Annie Blay, Allure, 27 Oct. 2022 Şengün is one of the most creative playmakers in basketball, and his genius when dishing dimes over his shoulder and behind is back is truly something to behold. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 19 Oct. 2022 The fact that Bill Belichick can win a game with Bailey Zappe at quarterback reveals his genius. Richard Morin, USA TODAY, 13 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'genius.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Latin, tutelary spirit, natural inclinations, from gignere to beget

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1924, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of genius was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near genius

Cite this Entry

“Genius.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/genius. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

genius

noun

ge·​nius ˈjēn-yəs How to pronounce genius (audio)
ˈjē-nē-əs
plural geniuses or genii -ē-ˌī How to pronounce genius (audio)
-nē-ˌī
1
plural genii : an accompanying spirit of a person or place
2
: a strong leaning or inclination
a genius for getting into trouble
3
: a peculiar, distinctive, or identifying character
the genius of a nation
4
plural usually geniuses
a
: great natural ability
b
: extraordinary intelligence
c
: a very gifted person

Medical Definition

genius

noun

plural geniuses or genii -nē-ˌī How to pronounce genius (audio)
1
: extraordinary intellectual power especially as manifested in creative activity
2
: a person endowed with transcendent mental superiority
specifically : a person with a very high IQ

More from Merriam-Webster on genius

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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