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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ These beautiful buildings, along with a whole realm of cultivated human intellect, are closed to the vast majority of humankind.
▪ Their keen intellects and powerful personalities could spark off more than just brilliant ideas at times.
▪ Husseini's keen intellect and integrity set him apart.
▪ His conceptual approach to problems and decision-making is supported, mostly positively, by a superior general intellect.
▪ Corning wasn't a great intellect, but he knew how to get things done.
▪ Her friendliness hides a shrewd intellect.
▪ Joyce's books seem designed to appeal to the intellect rather than the emotions.
▪ Our physical strength declines with age, but not necessarily our intellect.
▪ Rehnquist was a great scholar who possessed a formidable intellect.
▪ Schools should nurture a child's intellect.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Intellect \In"tel*lect\, n. [L. intellectus, fr. intelligere, intellectum, to understand: cf. intellect. See Intelligent.]

  1. (Metaph.) The part or faculty of the human mind by which it knows, as distinguished from the power to feel and to will; the power to judge and comprehend; the thinking faculty; the understanding.

  2. The capacity for higher forms of knowledge, as distinguished from the power to perceive objects in their relations; mental capacity.

  3. A particular mind, especially a person of high intelligence; as, he was a great intellect.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c. (but little used before 16c.), from Old French intellecte "intellectual capacity" (13c.), and directly from Latin intellectus "discernment, a perception, understanding," from noun use of past participle of intelligere "to understand, discern" (see intelligence).


n. 1 the faculty of thinking, judging, abstract reasoning, and conceptual understanding; the cognitive faculty ''(uncountable)'' 2 the capacity of that faculty (in a particular person) ''(uncountable)'' 3 a person who has that faculty to a great degree

  1. n. knowledge and intellectual ability; "he reads to improve his mind"; "he has a keen intellect" [syn: mind]

  2. the capacity for rational thought or inference or discrimination; "we are told that man is endowed with reason and capable of distinguishing good from evil" [syn: reason, understanding]

  3. a person who uses the mind creatively [syn: intellectual]


Intellect is a term used in studies of the human mind, and refers to the ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true or real, and about how to solve problems. Historically the term comes from the Greek philosophical term nous, which was translated into Latin as intellectus (derived from the verb intelligere, "to understand," from inter, "between" and legere, "to choose") and into French (and then English) as intelligence.

Discussion of the intellect can be divided into two broad areas. In both of these areas, the terms "intellect" and "intelligence" have continued to be used as related words.

  • Intellect and nous in philosophy. In philosophy, especially in classical and medieval philosophy the intellect or nous is an important subject connected to the question of how humans can know things. Especially during late antiquity and the middle ages, the intellect was often proposed as a concept which could reconcile philosophical and scientific understandings of nature with monotheistic religious understandings, by making the intellect a link between each human soul, and the divine intellect (or intellects) of the cosmos itself. (During the Latin Middle Ages a distinction developed whereby the term "intelligence" was typically used to refer to the incorporeal beings which governed the celestial spheres in many of these accounts.) Also see: passive intellect and active intellect.
  • Intellect and intelligence in psychology. In modern psychology and neuroscience, intelligence and intellect are used as terms describing mental ability (or abilities) that allow people to understand. A distinction is sometimes made whereby intellect is considered to be related to "facts" in contrast to intelligence concerning "feelings". Intellect refers to the cognition and rational mental processes gained through external input rather than internal.

A person who uses intelligence (thought and reason) and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity is often referred to as an intellectual.

Intellect (disambiguation)

Intellect is a term used in studies of the human mind. This may also refer to these related topics:

  • A philosophical and cosmological term with Latin origins, which is equivalent to Greek nous
  • A property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities or Intelligence

Some other uses include:

  • Intellect (trade association) or Information Technology Telecommunications and Electronics Association, British trade association
  • Intellect Games, board game manufacturing company
  • One side of "Love Like Blood"/"Intellect", a 1998 double-sided rock single

Usage examples of "intellect".

The black servant who had charge of him appeared to commiserate his condition in so far as his confined intellect permitted him to understand it, and Arabin now tried to open a communication with him, so that he might find out how he was disposed.

The full-court press, passes out of the double-team, the pick-and-roll, cutting off the passing lanes, a tip-in from a high-flying forward soaring from out of nowhere all constitute a coordination of intellect and athleticism, a harmony of mind and body.

It is a principle with us that one who has attained to the vision of the Intellectual Beauty and grasped the beauty of the Authentic Intellect will be able also to come to understand the Father and Transcendent of that Divine Being.

My remarks made him laugh, and he then began to speak of our common business, and I soon found him to be a man of intellect.

This combined Intellectual realm will be the Primal Intellect: we have only then to examine how this reality, conjoint of Intellectual-Principle and its object, is to be understood, whether as combining self-united identity with yet duality and difference, or what other relation holds between them.

Insufferably conceited about his intellect and convinced it has no peer.

They place intellect and reason first as self-existent, and from these they derive the created world.

The cruciform -- a sort of organic computer in which is stored the neurological and physiological data of a living human being -- restored the body but not the full intellect or personality.

My friend told the medium that when his relative was in this poor world, he was endowed with an extraordinary intellect and an absolutely defectless memory, and it seemed a great pity that he had not been allowed to keep some shred of these for his amusement in the realms of everlasting contentment, and for the amazement and admiration of the rest of the population there.

By the logical subtleties of her scholastic theologians, by the persuasive eloquence of her popular preachers, by the frantic ravings of her fanatic devotees, by the parading proclamation of her innumerable pretended miracles, by the imposing ceremonies of her dramatic ritual, almost visibly opening heaven and hell to the over awed congregation, by her wonder working use of the relics of martyrs and saints to exorcise demons from the possessed and to heal the sick, and by her anathemas against all who were supposed to be hostile to her formulas, she infused the ideas of her doctrinal system into the intellect, heart, and fancy of the common people, and nourished the collateral horrors, until every wave of her wand convulsed the world.

If they treat God as they do the intellectual-Principle--as later, engendered and deriving intellection from without--soul and intellect and God may prove to have no existence: this would follow if a potentiality could not come to existence, or does not become actual, unless the corresponding actuality exists.

The very upholders of the Entelechy are thus compelled to introduce another soul, the Intellect, to which they ascribe immortality.

God is one: and in this way our intellect can understand the Divine goodness and wisdom, and the like, which are called essential attributes, without understanding Paternity or Filiation, which are called Personalities.

Then the Bridal Chamber--the animal that invented that idea was still alive and unhanged, at that day--Bridal Chamber whose pretentious flummery was necessarily overawing to the now tottering intellect of that hosannahing citizen.

But many men of keen intellects had not waited for him to recant before exposing this wretched system of his.