from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Extraordinary intellectual and creative power.
  • noun A person of extraordinary intellect and talent.
  • noun A person who has an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, typically above 140.
  • noun A strong natural talent, aptitude, or inclination.
  • noun One who has such a talent or inclination.
  • noun The prevailing spirit or distinctive character, as of a place, a person, or an era.
  • noun Roman Mythology A tutelary deity or guardian spirit of a person or place.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun A disembodied spirit regarded as affecting human beings in certain ways, but not as connected with any one individually.
  • noun A type or symbol; a concrete representative, as of an influence or a characteristic; a generic exemplification.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A person having such mental power; a person of general or special intellectual faculties developed in a phenomenal degree.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Peculiar character; animating spirit, as of a nation, a religion, a language.
  • noun Distinguished mental superiority; uncommon intellectual power; especially, superior power of invention or origination of any kind, or of forming new combinations.
  • noun A man endowed with uncommon vigor of mind; a man of superior intellectual faculties and creativity.
  • noun the genius or presiding divinity of a place; hence, the pervading spirit of a place or institution, as of a college, etc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[Middle English, guardian spirit, from Latin; see genə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


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  • 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 Various

  • 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 George Du Maurier 1865

  • 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 Thomas Carlyle 1838

  • 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 Thomas De Quincey 1822

  • 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 Isaac Disraeli 1807

  • 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 Lawrence Gilman 1908

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

    Barriers Burned Away Edward Payson Roe 1863

  • 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 Johnny Guitar 2008

  • 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 Carol Fenner 2001

  • 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 Carol Fenner 2001


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  • "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

  • Love it!

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

    July 31, 2008

  • Ignatius! My baby!

    July 31, 2008

  • Careful, or his pyloric valve will slam shut!

    July 31, 2008

  • Genius is the extreme form of insight

    March 11, 2011

  • genius (adjective) = clever and original.

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    October 6, 2021