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-. Doublet of genio. See also genus.
- enPR: jēniəs, jēnyəs
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈdʒiː.nɪəs/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒin.jəs/, /ˈd͡ʒi.ni.əs/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -iːniəs, -iːnjəs
- (countable) Someone possessing extraordinary intelligence or skill; especially somebody who has demonstrated this by a creative or original work in science, music, art etc.
- (uncountable) Extraordinary mental capacity.
- 1853, Whirligig, quotee, edited by William Kidd, Kidd’s Own Journal; for Inter-Communications on Natural History, Popular Science, and Things in General, volume IV, number 8, London: William Spooner, […]; Richard Groombridge and Sons, […], page 124, column 2:
- Excuse, therefore, the shortcomings of genius under the sudorific influence of the summer solstice; for be assured that the vertical sun, however it may dulcify and mature cherries, plums, and other fruitful ‘plumpitudes,’ is by no means favorable to the development of intellectual products.
- 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter I, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
- 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.
- (uncountable) Inspiration, a mental leap, an extraordinary creative process.
- a work of genius
- to add a dash of cinnamon amid such umami was pure genius
- (countable, Roman mythology, also figurative) The tutelary deity or spirit of a place or person.
- Synonyms: tutelary deity; see also Thesaurus:spirit
- and the genius of the place: the growing enthusiasm for codified standards in the Army and Navy
- 1715, Edward Burnett Tylor, Primitive Culture:
- 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.
- 1866, Frederick F. Wyman, From Calcutta to the Snowy Range, page 330:
- An old sinner, in shape of a khansamah, is the genius of the place, and has rarely aught else to tempt the tired traveller with than a “sudden death”—a fowl caught running in the yard, and dished up forthwith; […]
- (informal) Ingenious, brilliant, very clever, or original.
- What a genius idea!
- 2002, Oskar Bandle, Lennart Elmevik, Gun Widmark, The Nordic Languages: An International Handbook of the North Germanic Languages, volume 1, page 466:
- Bjarte Birkeland asserts that the reason why Nynorsk writers of fiction have succeeded in coming so close to naked life is not that they are more genius than authors writing in Bokmal, but that they are using their mother tongue
- 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:
- 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.
- 2019, Iswarya Somasundaram, Research the Treasure, page 64:
- But Vahul was more genius than Rishi.
- 2022 August 2, Wanda Sutherland, “Dangers of vaping: Teen use of e-cigarettes considered epidemic”, in Elk Valley Times:
- She said the writing for these products “is very genius” because it's carefully done.
- Some writers put this word in quotation marks, especially in comparative or superlative expressions, indicating that they do not yet find it fully acceptable.
- “genius”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
- “genius”, in The Century Dictionary […], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.
- "genius" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 143.
- jenius (nonstandard)
Learned borrowing 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-. Doublet of enjin, insinyur, and zeni.
- genius: ingenious, brilliant, very clever, or original.
- “genius” in Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, Jakarta: Language Development and Fostering Agency — Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of the Republic Indonesia, 2016.
Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ǵenh₁- (“to beget”), perhaps through Old Latin genō (“to beget, give birth; to produce, cause”), + *-yos; compare Proto-Germanic *kunją (“kin”) and Sanskrit जन्य n (jánya, “lineage, tribe, people”), though all probably independent formations. Comparisons with Aramaic ܓܢܝܐ (ginnaya, “tutelary deity”), and with Arabic Arabic جِنِّي (jinnī, “jinn, spirit, demon”) and جَنِين (janīn, “embryo, germ”), suggest the effects of an older substrate word.
- (Classical) IPA(key): /ˈɡe.ni.us/, [ˈɡɛniʊs̠]
- (modern Italianate Ecclesiastical) IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒe.ni.us/, [ˈd͡ʒɛːnius]
- the deity or guardian spirit of a person, place, etc.; a daemon, a daimon (cf. Ancient Greek δαίμων (daímōn))
- an inborn nature or innate character, especially (though not exclusively) as endowed by a personal (especially tutelar) spirit or deity.
- (with respect to the enjoyment of life) the spirit of social enjoyment, fondness for good living, taste, appetite, inclinations
- (of the intellect) wit, talents, genius (rare)
1Found in older Latin (until the Augustan Age).
- 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.
- magne Geni, cape tura libens votisque faveto,
- “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 with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 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
- “genius” in The Nynorsk Dictionary.