the power or faculty of the mind by which one knows or understands, as distinguished from that by which one feels and that by which one wills; the understanding; the faculty of thinking and acquiring knowledge.
capacity for thinking and acquiring knowledge, especially of a high or complex order; mental capacity.
a particular mind or intelligence, especially of a high order.
a person possessing a great capacity for thought and knowledge.
minds collectively, as of a number of persons or the persons themselves.

Origin of intellect

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin intellēctus, equivalent to intelleg(ere) to understand + -tus suffix of v. action; see intelligent

Synonyms for intellect

1. reason, sense, common sense, brains. See mind. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for intellect

Contemporary Examples of intellect

Historical Examples of intellect

  • This boasted power of intellect—this giddy triumph of beauty—what do they do for you?


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Conscience, he said, was the soul's safeguard, and reason the safeguard of the heart and intellect.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • For him the intellect as such is the organ of religious truth.

  • At other times the contests are only of the intellect and the mind, but are equally remarkable.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • His intellect was a blank; he had no knowledge, no desires, no affections.

British Dictionary definitions for intellect



the capacity for understanding, thinking, and reasoning, as distinct from feeling or wishing
a mind or intelligence, esp a brilliant onehis intellect is wasted on that job
informal a person possessing a brilliant mind; brain
those possessing the greatest mental powerthe intellect of a nation
Derived Formsintellective, adjectiveintellectively, adverb

Word Origin for intellect

C14: from Latin intellectus comprehension, intellect, from intellegere to understand; see intelligence
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

Word Origin and History for intellect

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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper