[ in-tl-ek-choo-uhl ]
See synonyms for: intellectualintellectualsintellectually on

  1. appealing to or engaging the intellect: intellectual pursuits.

  2. of or relating to the intellect or its use: intellectual powers.

  1. possessing or showing intellect or mental capacity, especially to a high degree: an intellectual person.

  2. guided or developed by or relying on the intellect rather than upon emotions or feelings; rational.

  3. characterized by or suggesting a predominance of intellect:an intellectual way of speaking.

  1. a person of superior intellect.

  2. 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.

  1. an extremely rational person; a person who relies on intellect rather than on emotions or feelings.

  2. a person professionally engaged in mental labor, as a writer or teacher.

  3. intellectuals, Archaic.

    • the mental faculties.

    • things pertaining to the intellect.

Origin of intellectual

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin intellēctuālis, equivalent to intellēctu-, stem of intellēctus intellect + -ālis -al1

synonym study For intellectual

3. See intelligent.

Other words for intellectual

Other words from intellectual

  • in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • in·tel·lec·tu·al·ness, noun
  • half-in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective
  • half-in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • hy·per·in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective
  • hy·per·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • hy·per·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ness, noun
  • non·in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective, noun
  • non·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • non·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ness, noun
  • o·ver·in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective
  • o·ver·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ness, noun
  • pre·in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective
  • pre·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • qua·si-in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective
  • qua·si-in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • sem·i-in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective, noun
  • sem·i-in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • su·per·in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective, noun
  • su·per·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb
  • un·in·tel·lec·tu·al, adjective
  • un·in·tel·lec·tu·al·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with intellectual

Words Nearby intellectual Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use intellectual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for intellectual


/ (ˌɪntɪˈlɛktʃʊəl) /

  1. of or relating to the intellect, as opposed to the emotions

  2. appealing to or characteristic of people with a developed intellect: intellectual literature

  1. expressing or enjoying mental activity

  1. a person who enjoys mental activity and has highly developed tastes in art, literature, etc

  2. a person who uses or works with his intellect

  1. a highly intelligent person

Derived forms of intellectual

  • intellectuality or 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

Cultural definitions for intellectual


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.