Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Extraordinary intellectual and creative power.
  • n. A person of extraordinary intellect and talent: "One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius” ( Simone de Beauvoir).
  • n. A person who has an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, typically above 140.
  • n. A strong natural talent, aptitude, or inclination: has a genius for choosing the right words.
  • n. One who has such a talent or inclination: a genius at diplomacy.
  • n. The prevailing spirit or distinctive character, as of a place, a person, or an era: the genius of Elizabethan England.
  • n. Roman Mythology A tutelary deity or guardian spirit of a person or place.
  • n. A person who has great influence over another.
  • n. A jinni in Muslim mythology.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Someone possessing extraordinary intelligence or skill; especially somebody who has demonstrated this by a creative or original work in science, music, art etc.
  • n. Extraordinary mental capacity.
  • n. inspiration, a mental leap, an extraordinary creative process.
  • n. The guardian spirit of a place or person.
  • n. A way of thinking, optimizing one's capacity for learning and understanding.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A good or evil spirit, or demon, supposed by the ancients to preside over a man's destiny in life; a tutelary deity; a supernatural being; a spirit, good or bad. Cf. jinnee.
  • n. The peculiar structure of mind with which each individual is endowed by nature; that disposition or aptitude of mind which is peculiar to each man, and which qualifies him for certain kinds of action or special success in any pursuit; special taste, inclination, or disposition.
  • n. Peculiar character; animating spirit, as of a nation, a religion, a language.
  • n. Distinguished mental superiority; uncommon intellectual power; especially, superior power of invention or origination of any kind, or of forming new combinations.
  • n. A man endowed with uncommon vigor of mind; a man of superior intellectual faculties and creativity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The ruling or predominant spirit of a place, person, or thing; the power, principle, or influence that determines character, conduct, or destiny (supposed by the ancients to be a tutelar divinity, a good spirit, or an evil demon, usually striving with an opposing spirit for the mastery); that which controls, guides, or aids: as, my good genius came to the rescue; his evil genius enticed him.
  • n. A disembodied spirit regarded as affecting human beings in certain ways, but not as connected with any one individually.
  • n. A type or symbol; a concrete representative, as of an influence or a characteristic; a generic exemplification.
  • n. Prevailing spirit or inclination; distinguishing proclivity, bent, or tendency, as of a person, place, time, institution, etc.; special aptitude or intellectual quality; intrinsic characteristic or qualification: as, a genius for poetry, or for diplomacy; the genius of Christianity, of the Elizabethan period, of the American Constitution, of the Vatican.
  • n. Exalted mental power distinguished by instinctive aptitude, and independent of tuition; phenomenal capability, derived from inspiration or exaltation, for intellectual creation or expression; that constitution of mind or perfection of faculties which enables a person to excel others in mental perception, comprehension, discrimination, and expression, especially in literature, art, and science.
  • n. A person having such mental power; a person of general or special intellectual faculties developed in a phenomenal degree.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a natural talent
  • n. someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field
  • n. exceptional creative ability
  • n. unusual mental ability
  • n. someone who has exceptional intellectual ability and originality

Etymologies

Middle English, guardian spirit, from Latin; see genə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin genius ("the guardian spirit of a person, spirit, inclination, wit, genius, literally 'inborn nature'"), from gignere ("to beget, produce"), Old Latin genere, the root gen; see genus. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Shakespeare's genius would manifest itself in the superior effect with which he used knowledge acquired in this manner; but his _genius_ would not have led him to choose the dry and affected phraseology of the law as the vehicle of his flowing thought, and to use it so much oftener than any other of the numerous dramatists of his time, to all of whom the courts were as open as to him.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 04, No. 21, July, 1859

  • On me, a mere prosperous tradesman, and busy politician and man of the world, devolves the delicate and responsible task of being the first to write the life of the greatest literary genius this century has produced, _and of revealing the strange secret of that genius_, which has lighted up the darkness of these latter times as with a pillar of fire by night.

    The Martian

  • Much laborious discussion has been wasted in defining genius, particularly by the countrymen of Schiller, some of whom have narrowed the conditions of the term so far, as to find but three _men of genius_ since the world was created: Homer, Shakspeare, and Goethe!

    The Life of Friedrich Schiller Comprehending an Examination of His Works

  • Roman conception (whencesoever emanating) of the natal genius, as the secret and central representative of what is most characteristic and individual in the nature of every human being, are derived alike the notion of the _genial_ and our modern notion of _genius_ as contradistinguished from _talent_.

    Autobiographical Sketches

  • But when these theorists had discovered the curious fact, that we have owed to _accident_ several men of genius, and when they laid open some sources which influenced genius in its progress, they did not go one step further, they did not inquire whether such sources and such accidents had ever supplied the _want of genius_ in the individual.

    Literary Character of Men of Genius Drawn from Their Own Feelings and Confessions

  • Concerning the sonata Mr. Apthorp wrote: "One feels genius in it throughout -- and we are perfectly aware that _genius_ is not a term to be used lightly.

    Edward MacDowell

  • "Oh, certainly, but they were persons of great genius, and _genius_ is the highest patent of nobility.

    Barriers Burned Away

  • The term genius is bandied around far too much these days e.g.

    "You're just some racist who can't tie my laces" - When mixing pop and politics goes horribly wrong

  • She was hoping the word genius would mean something about wanting to know, being hungry to know things, wanting to shine brighter than anyone.

    Yolonda's Genius

  • Lee remarked, “The word genius is used too much these days, but I thoroughly believe that Kener is the real thing.”

    Managing New Product and Process Development

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Comments

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  • Genius is the extreme form of insight
    http://jamesthornton.com/blog/how-to-get-to-genius

    March 11, 2011

  • Careful, or his pyloric valve will slam shut!

    July 31, 2008

  • Ignatius! My baby!

    July 31, 2008

  • Love it!

    Also the inspiration for the title of a good novel, Confederacy of Dunces.

    July 31, 2008

  • "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."
    -Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting

    July 31, 2008