Definitions

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

  • n. Philosophy Reason and knowledge as opposed to sense perception.
  • n. Philosophy The rational part of the individual human soul.
  • n. Philosophy The principle of the cosmic mind or soul responsible for the rational order of the cosmos.
  • n. Philosophy In Stoicism, the equivalent of Logos.
  • n. Philosophy In Neo-Platonism, the image of the absolute good, containing the cosmos of intelligible beings.
  • n. Chiefly British Good sense; shrewdness: "Hillela had the nous to take up with the General when he was on the up-and-up again” ( Nadine Gordimer).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The mind or intellect, reason, both rational and emotional
  • n. In neoplatonism, the divine reason, regarded as first divine emanation.
  • n. Common sense; practical intelligence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Intellect; understanding; talent; -- used humorously.
  • n. The reason; the highest intellect; God regarded as the World Reason.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Platonism and the Neoplatonic philosophy, reason, the highest kind of thought; especially, that reason which made the world (though other elements contributed to it). The later Neoplatonists made the nous a kind of living being.
  • n. Hence Wit; cleverness; smartness.

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

  • n. common sense
  • n. that which is responsible for one's thoughts and feelings; the seat of the faculty of reason

Etymologies

Greek.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek νοῦς (nous) or νόος (noös, "mind"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Montluc -- "_avant nous ces envies ont regne_, _et regneront encore apres nous_, _si Dieu ne nous voulait tous refondre_."

    Sir Thomas More, or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society

  • Nous _ne savons pas ce que ces causes sont en elles-mêmes_, et la raison nous défend de chercher à le connaître: mais il est bien évident _à priori_, qu’_elles ne sont pas en elles-mêmes ce quelles sont par rapport à nous_, puisque la présence du sujet modifie nécessairement leur action.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive (Vol. 1 of 2)

  • Nous _ne savons pas ce que ces causes sont en elles-mêmes_, et la raison nous défend de chercher à le connaître: mais il est bien évident _à priori_, qu’_elles ne sont pas en elles-mêmes ce qu’elles sont par rapport à nous_, puisque la présence du sujet modifie nécessairement leur action.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive

  • The term nous, or mind, was commonly given to this second person, but it was said that this nous was the word or reason of the first person.

    Barnes New Testament Notes

  • In a 1999 essay titled “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By Which We Do Not Mean Nous)” (in Greek philosophy the term nous denotes the highest form of rationality), Shulsky and Schmitt, two neocons, argue that Strauss’s idea of hidden meaning “alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception.

    Grokster falls to the RIAA

  • According to Plotinus, nous is the highest sphere accessible to the human mind and thus the "objective" of contemplation.

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

  • It is of all that is comprehended under the word nous, the understanding and the heart, that this vanity is predicated.

    A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians

  • I am talking about the part of us that grows with spiritual development, called the nous by the ancient Christian fathers, the "psychic being" in Sri Aurobindo's yoga.

    Soul and Spirit

  • In Aristotle, phantasia is what comes between aisthesis and nous, that is, the end product of sensation and the start of intellectual activity.

    Mental Representation in Medieval Philosophy

  • For these ` ` infinite, self powerful, and unmixed '' particles are imbued with, and, indeed, themselves constitute, what Anaxagoras terms nous, a word which the modern translator has usually paraphrased as ` ` mind. ''

    A History of Science: in Five Volumes. Volume I: The Beginnings of Science

Comments

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  • Good to know that behaviour on internet forums is also a problem for Middle Earth.

    March 23, 2013

  • Gandalf used this word when he was talking to Thorin after the troll incident.

    March 23, 2013

  • "The Canavans—they had for decades and centuries brought to the Ox elements that were by turn complicated and simple: occult nous and racy semen."
    "Ox Mountain Death Song" by Kevin Barry, in the October 29 & November 5, 2012 issue of the New Yorker, p 106

    November 1, 2012

  • nous as common sense in BrE from M Lynne Murphy.

    August 4, 2011