Definitions

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

  • n. The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding.
  • n. The ability to think abstractly or profoundly. See Synonyms at mind.
  • n. A person of great intellectual ability.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the faculty of thinking, judging, abstract reasoning, and conceptual understanding (uncountable)
  • n. the capacity of that faculty (in a particular person) (uncountable)
  • n. a person who has that faculty to a great degree

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. The capacity for higher forms of knowledge, as distinguished from the power to perceive objects in their relations; mental capacity.
  • n. A particular mind, especially a person of high intelligence.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The understanding; the sum of all the cognitive faculties except sense, or except sense and imagination.
  • n. Mind collectively; current or collective intelligence: as, the intellect of the time.
  • n. plural Wits; senses; mind: as, disordered in his intellects.

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

  • n. knowledge and intellectual ability
  • n. a person who uses the mind creatively
  • n. the capacity for rational thought or inference or discrimination

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French intellecte, from Latin intellēctus, perception, from past participle of intellegere, to perceive; see intelligent.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin intellēctus ("understanding, intellect"), perfect passive participle of intellegō ("understand; reason"), from inter ("between, among") + legō ("read"), with connotation of bind. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The knowledge of first principles is attained by the _intuition of pure intellect_ (νοῦς) -- that is, "_intellect itself is the principle of science_" or, in other words, intellect is the _efficient, essential cause_ of the knowledge of first principles.

    Christianity and Greek Philosophy or, the relation between spontaneous and reflective thought in Greece and the positive teaching of Christ and His Apostles

  • I'm very much the beneficiary of his deeply insightful, eloquently argued ideas; the privilege of sharpening my ideas on the whetstone of his intellect is a rare one, and I'm delighted to share that opportunity with Boing Boing's readers ...

    Boing Boing

  • But some times, in moments of inspiration, the pressure of one's will relents, and the intellect is able to consider the object as it is in itself, independently of one's goals, desires, and interests.

    Pure Experience

  • I agree that design can be inferred from adaptation and also agree with nullasalus that the intellect is a supreme adaptive tool.

    Adaptationism

  • Besides, my intellect is actually my main defense.

    Think Progress » Zakaria: Rumsfeld ‘Seems In A Parallel Universe and Slightly Deranged’

  • The premier science in the study of the history of art is, and always has been, the science of vision, because "the distinction between what we really see and what we infer through the intellect is as old as human thought on perception."

    The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe

  • Each one can define it for himself; there it is, and I do not see why it is not as integral a part of the authors — an element in the estimate of their future position — as what we term their intellect, their knowledge, their skill, or their art.

    Washington Irving

  • That statement, "he announced," is a formal tribute paid by what I call my intellect to what the vulgar call the probabilities.

    The Certain Hour

  • He too yields only to necessity, the attraction of pleasure, and the fear of suffering; and what we call our intellect has the same origin and mission as what in animals we choose to term instinct.

    The Life of the Bee

  • Each one can define it for himself; there it is, and I do not see why it is not as integral a part of the authors -- an element in the estimate of their future position -- as what we term their intellect, their knowledge, their skill, or their art.

    Washington Irving

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Comments

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  • "active intellect" sounds plausible, though I would hope most people's intellect would be active, to some degree at least (I know, I know, I'm living in a world of illusion).

    I hear this being said by a teacher about a pupil to indicate that the child asks question, is curious about things, and tries to figure things out in logical ways. Another possibility would be a "lively intellect".

    May 29, 2009

  • Help. Would you say "active intellect"? If not, what would you say? I'm at a loss, probably because it's late. :-/

    May 29, 2009