intellectual (adj.)

late 14c., "grasped by the understanding" (rather than by the senses), from Old French intellectuel (13c.) and directly from Latin intellectualis "relating to the understanding," from intellectus "discernment, understanding," noun use of past participle of intelligere "to understand, discern" (see intelligence).

Sense of "characterized by a high degree of intellect" is from 1819. Meaning "appealing to or engaging the mental powers" is from 1834. Intellectual property "products of the intellect" is attested from 1845. Adjective formations in the sense "of or pertaining to the intellect" included intellective (early 15c.), intellectile (1670s).

intellectual (n.)

1590s, "mind, intellect, intellectual powers," from intellectual (adj.). The meaning "an intellectual person" is attested from 1650s but was hardly used in that sense in 19c. and the modern use in this sense seems to be a re-coinage from c. 1906. Related: Intellectuals.

updated on December 13, 2015

Definitions of intellectual from WordNet
intellectual (adj.)
of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind;
intellectual problems
Synonyms: rational / noetic
intellectual (adj.)
appealing to or using the intellect;
satire is an intellectual weapon
has tremendous intellectual sympathy for oppressed people
sort of the intellectual type
intellectual literature
intellectual workers engaged in creative literary or artistic or scientific labor
coldly intellectual
intellectual (adj.)
involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct;
Synonyms: cerebral
intellectual (n.)
a person who uses the mind creatively;
Synonyms: intellect
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.