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

Essential Meaning of intuitive

1 : having the ability to know or understand things without any proof or evidence : having or characterized by intuition She has an intuitive mind an intuitive person
2 : based on or agreeing with what is known or understood without any proof or evidence : known or understood by intuition She has an intuitive [=instinctive] understanding of the business. a doctor with an intuitive awareness of his patients' concerns
3 : agreeing with what seems naturally right The argument makes intuitive sense.

Full 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

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 Identifying your go-to-market customers can also be counter-intuitive. Renita Kalhorn, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 Many of the lessons the women learn from horses are intuitive. Nedra Rhone, ajc, 23 Nov. 2021 No voice chat isn’t the biggest deal in Battlefield’s traditional big team modes, however annoying (and the ping system is not at all intuitive). Erik Kain, Forbes, 14 Nov. 2021 Smaller jurisdictions could be at greater risk from climate change, but even in these cases, the default-risk implications may not be intuitive. Marc Joffe, National Review, 2 Nov. 2021 And navigating menu functions isn’t always intuitive. Laura Burstein, Robb Report, 15 Oct. 2021 It’s all very easy and intuitive — perfect for carrying larger loads. Christian De Looper, BGR, 28 Dec. 2021 Toyota's new Audio Multimedia system, first debuted on the new Tundra full-size pickup, has a simple and intuitive design and displays on a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, 17 Nov. 2021 Vivenu is investing in growth and making their programs more intuitive and scalable. Eric Fuller, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near intuitive

Intuition line


intuitive reason

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Statistics for intuitive

Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Intuitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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