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See also: génius and Genius


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From Latin genius (inborn nature; a tutelary deity of a person or place; wit, brilliance), from gignō (to beget, produce), Old Latin genō, from the Proto-Indo-European root *ǵenh₁-. See also genus.



genius (plural geniuses or genii)

  1. (eulogistic) Someone possessing extraordinary intelligence or skill; especially somebody who has demonstrated this by a creative or original work in science, music, art etc.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
      In the old days, to my commonplace and unobserving mind, he gave no evidences of genius whatsoever. He never read me any of his manuscripts, […], and therefore my lack of detection of his promise may in some degree be pardoned.
  2. Extraordinary mental capacity.
  3. Inspiration, a mental leap, an extraordinary creative process.
    a work of genius.
  4. (Roman mythology) The tutelary deity or spirit of a place or person.
    • Milton
      the unseen genius of the wood
    • Tylor
      We talk of genius still, but with thought how changed! The genius of Augustus was a tutelary demon, to be sworn by and to receive offerings on an altar as a deity.



Related terms[edit]



genius (not comparable)

  1. (informal) ingenious, very clever, or original.
    What a genius idea!
    • 2012 May 20, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “Marge Gets A Job” (season 4, episode 7; originally aired 11/05/1992)”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      We all know how genius “Kamp Krusty,” “A Streetcar Named Marge,” “Homer The Heretic,” “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie” and “Mr. Plow” are, but even the relatively unheralded episodes offer wall-to-wall laughs and some of the smartest, darkest, and weirdest gags ever Trojan-horsed into a network cartoon with a massive family audience.


Further reading[edit]




Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ǵenh₁- (to beget), perhaps through Old Latin genō (to beget, give birth; to produce, cause). Comparisons with Aramaic ܓܢܝܐ(ginnaya, tutelary deity), and with Arabic جِنّ(jinn, jinn, spirit, demon) and جَنِين(janīn, embryo, germ), suggest the effects of an older substrate word.



genius m (genitive geniī or genī); second declension

  1. the deity or guardian spirit of a person, place, etc.
  2. an inborn nature or innate character, especially (though not exclusively) as endowed by a personal (especially tutelar) spirit or deity.
  3. (with respect to the enjoyment of life) the spirit of social enjoyment, fondness for good living, taste, appetite, inclinations
  4. (of the intellect) wit, talents, genius (rare)


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative genius geniī
Genitive geniī
Dative geniō geniīs
Accusative genium geniōs
Ablative geniō geniīs
Vocative genī geniī

1Found in older Latin (until the Augustan Age).


Quote-alpha.png This entry needs quotations to illustrate usage. If you come across any interesting, durably archived quotes then please add them!
  • Catullus[,] Tibullus and Pervigilium Veneris, 1921, page 328f. containing Albius Tibullus III, XI, 9f. = IV, V, 9f. with a translation into English by J. P. Postgate:
    magne Geni, cape tura libens votisque faveto,
    si modo, cum de me cogitat, ille calet.
    Great Genius, take this incense with a will, and smile upon my prayer, if only when he thinks on me his pulse beats high.


  • Catalan: geni, giny
  • Dutch: genie
  • English: genius, genie
  • French: génie
  • German: Genie, Genius


  • genius in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • genius in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • genius in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883–1887)
  • genius in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • genius in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • genius in William Smith, editor (1848) A Dictionary of Greek Biography and Mythology, London: John Murray
  • genius in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin