a. The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding: "Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect" (Herbert Spencer).
b. A person's individual ability to think and reason: "[His] humanitarianism could never overcome the rigidities of his intellect or the shortcomings of his temperament" (Michael B. Stoff).
2. A person of great intellectual ability: "Gifted as both an athlete and an intellect, [he] received help from teachers who recognized his talents" (Anita Silvey).
[Middle English, from Old French intellecte, from Latin intellēctus, perception, from past participle of intellegere, to perceive; see INTELLIGENT.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.