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[in-tl-ek-choo-uh l] /ˌɪn tlˈɛk tʃu əl/
appealing to or engaging the intellect:
intellectual pursuits.
of or relating to the intellect or its use:
intellectual powers.
possessing or showing intellect or mental capacity, especially to a high degree:
an intellectual person.
guided or developed by or relying on the intellect rather than upon emotions or feelings; rational.
characterized by or suggesting a predominance of intellect:
an intellectual way of speaking.
a person of superior intellect.
a person who places a high value on or pursues things of interest to the intellect or the more complex forms and fields of knowledge, as aesthetic or philosophical matters, especially on an abstract and general level.
an extremely rational person; a person who relies on intellect rather than on emotions or feelings.
a person professionally engaged in mental labor, as a writer or teacher.
intellectuals, Archaic.
  1. the mental faculties.
  2. things pertaining to the intellect.
Origin of intellectual
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin intellēctuālis, equivalent to intellēctu-, stem of intellēctus intellect + -ālis -al1
Related forms
intellectually, adverb
intellectualness, noun
half-intellectual, adjective
half-intellectually, adverb
hyperintellectual, adjective
hyperintellectually, adverb
hyperintellectualness, noun
nonintellectual, adjective, noun
nonintellectually, adverb
nonintellectualness, noun
overintellectual, adjective
overintellectually, adverb
overintellectualness, noun
preintellectual, adjective
preintellectually, adverb
quasi-intellectual, adjective
quasi-intellectually, adverb
semi-intellectual, adjective, noun
semi-intellectually, adverb
superintellectual, adjective, noun
superintellectually, adverb
unintellectual, adjective
unintellectually, adverb
Can be confused
intelligent, intelligible, intellectual (see synonym study at intelligent)
1, 2. mental. 3. See intelligent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unintellectual
Historical Examples
  • The round face and eyes present a heavy, unintellectual expression.

  • How unintellectual, how uncivilised, such a scene, and such actors!

    Godolphin, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • At Cambridge he had got into a fast, though not an unintellectual, set.

    The Love Affairs of Lord Byron

    Francis Henry Gribble
  • I thought you scorned it, considered it an unintellectual game.

    The Man Upstairs P. G. Wodehouse
  • St. Ives is unintellectual and except as an adventure novel, dull.

    Vailima Letters Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Some were conservative, or backward, or unintellectual compared with others.

  • The non-talker has no taste for such an unintellectual exercise.

    My Lady Nicotine J. M. Barrie
  • Be this as it may, with pure, unintellectual, brutal evil it is very different.

    Lectures on Art Washington Allston
  • "Farming is such an unintellectual subject," I heard a critical young woman say to her husband, whose tastes were bucolic.

  • The walls can be covered now almost as cheaply with intellectual pictures as with unintellectual wall paper.

    Cole's Funny Picture Book No. 1 Edward William Cole
British Dictionary definitions for unintellectual


not expressing or enjoying mental activity
not appealing to people with a developed intellect


of or relating to the intellect, as opposed to the emotions
appealing to or characteristic of people with a developed intellect: intellectual literature
expressing or enjoying mental activity
a person who enjoys mental activity and has highly developed tastes in art, literature, etc
a person who uses or works with his intellect
a highly intelligent person
Derived Forms
intellectuality, intellectualness, noun
intellectually, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unintellectual



late 14c., "grasped by the understanding" (rather than by the senses), from Old French intellectuel and directly from Latin intellectualis "relating to the understanding," from intellectus "discernment, understanding," from past participle stem of intelligere "to understand, discern" (see intelligence). Intellectual property attested from 1845. Other adjective formations included intellective (late 15c.), intellectile (1670s).



1590s, "mind, intellect," from intellectual (adj.); sense of "an intellectual person" is from 1650s. Related: Intellectuals.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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unintellectual in Culture

intellectual definition

A person who engages in academic study or critical evaluation of ideas and issues. (See intelligentsia.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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