in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al | \ ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl How to pronounce intellectual (audio) , -chəl, -shwəl, -chü(-ə)l \

Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to the intellect or its use
b : developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience : rational
c : requiring use of the intellect intellectual games
2a : given to study, reflection, and speculation
b : engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect intellectual playwrights



Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an intellectual person
2 intellectuals plural, archaic : intellectual powers

Other Words from intellectual


intellectuality \ ˌin-​tə-​ˌlek-​chə-​ˈwa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce intellectual (audio) \ noun
intellectually \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wə-​lē How to pronounce intellectual (audio) , -​chə-​lē , -​shwə-​lē , -​chü(-​ə)-​lē \ adverb
intellectualness \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈlek-​chə-​wəl-​nəs How to pronounce intellectual (audio) , -​chəl-​ , -​shwəl-​ , -​chü(-​ə)l-​ \ noun

Examples of intellectual in a Sentence

Adjective the social and intellectual life of the campus as the daughter of college professors, she's used to being around intellectual people Noun He thinks that he's an intellectual, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. She's a hard worker but she's no great intellectual. a café where artists and intellectuals mingle
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Peter Sachs, attorney and a founding partner of the law firm, also felt there was a need for employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Sergio Carmona, Sun Sentinel, 9 June 2022 The company, whose owners are mother-daughter duo Mary Clark and Kathryn Flick, provides community living support and companionship services to individuals with mental, intellectual and developmental disabilities. Navya Gupta, Detroit Free Press, 8 June 2022 Their flight from Mariupol illustrated the extra layers of trauma that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome and autism, can experience during wartime. Maryna Dubyna, WSJ, 7 June 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and raises funds for the group dedicated to ending the economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities like autism and Down syndrome. Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel, 2 June 2022 Past winners include: The Cedar Lake Foundation, which was awarded $12,500 last year and supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Greater Louisville area. Caleb Stultz, The Courier-Journal, 1 June 2022 In later proceedings in federal court, his lawyers argued that his trial lawyer had failed to investigate or present evidence about his intellectual and developmental disabilities that might have prompted the jury to show leniency. Adam Liptak,, 23 May 2022 Beacons North County, a Carlsbad nonprofit helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is holding an Open House noon to 2 p.m. Friday May 13 at 6150 Yarrow Drive. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 May 2022 Those with the disease (now that number stands at around 70) often end up with intellectual and physical disabilities. Terry Demio, The Enquirer, 5 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Being an in-demand, and somewhat reluctant, public intellectual has left Robinson struggling to find time to start a new novel. New York Times, 11 May 2022 As the historian Simon Sebag Montefiore’s work has shown, Stalin was a genuine Marxist intellectual who believed in class warfare and the evils of the bourgeoisie as much as any student at the Sorbonne. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 Hannah-Jones wants to be taken seriously as a public intellectual who deserves her Pulitzer Prize and her university professorship and whose historical writings are taught in schools. Nr Editors, National Review, 17 Feb. 2022 The most demanding part of Mann’s Princeton life, however, and that which forms the bulk of Corngold’s book, must have been his activism as a public intellectual. Washington Post, 18 Feb. 2022 The film’s drama involves her encounter with a middle-aged South Korean intellectual, Jin Lee (John Cho), who helps to awaken her nascent passion for architecture and to find a practical way of developing it. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022 There are forgivable intellectual and policy errors, and then there’s the self-delusion that has driven the West into its dependence on Vladimir Putin’s oil and gas. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 12 Mar. 2022 Jack is everything Alan isn't: combat expert, casual intellectual, man of substance and advanced sleeper holds. Leah Greenblatt,, 18 Mar. 2022 Stockman, who is having a solo show in June at Almine Rech in London, is the house intellectual, bringing books and articles to the others’ attention. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, 12 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of intellectual


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1599, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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The first known use of intellectual was in the 15th century

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intellectual disability

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Last Updated

17 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Intellectual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for intellectual


in·​tel·​lec·​tu·​al | \ ˌin-tə-ˈlek-chə-wəl How to pronounce intellectual (audio) \

Kids Definition of intellectual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of or relating to thought or understanding intellectual development
2 : interested in serious study and thought an intellectual person
3 : requiring study and thought an intellectual challenge

Other Words from intellectual

intellectually \ -​wə-​lē \ adverb



Kids Definition of intellectual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who takes pleasure in serious study and thought

More from Merriam-Webster on intellectual

Nglish: Translation of intellectual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intellectual for Arabic Speakers


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