See also: intel·lectual


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From Old French intellectuel, from Latin intellectualis


  • IPA(key): /ˌɪntəˈlɛk(t)ʃʊəl/
  • (file)


intellectual (comparative more intellectual, superlative most intellectual)

  1. Belonging to, or performed by, the intellect; mental or cognitive.
    intellectual powers, activities, etc.
  2. Endowed with intellect; having the power of understanding; having capacity for the higher forms of knowledge or thought; characterized by intelligence or mental capacity
    an intellectual person
  3. Suitable for exercising the intellect; formed by, and existing for, the intellect alone; perceived by the intellect
    intellectual employments
  4. Relating to the understanding; treating of the mind.
    intellectual philosophy, sometimes called "mental" philosophy
  5. (archaic, poetic) Spiritual.
    • 1805, William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book II, lines 331-334 (eds. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, & Stephen Gill, published by W. W. Norton & Company, 1979):
      I deem not profitless those fleeting moods / Of shadowy exultation; not for this, / That they are kindred to our purer mind / And intellectual life []


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intellectual (plural intellectuals)

  1. An intelligent, learned person, especially one who discourses about learned matters.
    Synonym: highbrow
    Coordinate terms: egghead, nerd, geek
    • 1991, Stephen Fry, The Liar, pp. 20–21:
      ‘You know I hate intellectuals.’
      ‘You mean you hate people who are cleverer than you are.’
      ‘Yes. I suppose that's why I like you so much, Tom.’
  2. (archaic) The intellect or understanding; mental powers or faculties.
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, London: Edw. Dod & Nath. Ekins, 1650, Book I, Chapter 1, p. 2,[1]
      [] although their intellectuals had not failed in the theory of truth, yet did the inservient and brutall faculties control the suggestion of reason []

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