Hypertext Webster Gateway: "genius"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Genius \Gen"ius\, n.; pl. E. {Geniuses}; in sense 1, L. {Genii}.
[L. genius, prop., the superior or divine nature which is
innate in everything, the spirit, the tutelar deity or genius
of a person or place, taste, talent, genius, from genere,
gignere, to beget, bring forth. See {Gender}, and cf.
1. A good or evil spirit, or demon, supposed by the ancients
to preside over a man's destiny in life; a tutelary deity;
a supernatural being; a spirit, good or bad. Cf. {Jinnee}.

The unseen genius of the wood. --Milton.

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. --Tylor.

2. The peculiar structure of mind with whoch each individual
is endowed by nature; that disposition or aptitude of mind
which is peculiar to each man, and which qualifies him for
certain kinds of action or special success in any pursuit;
special taste, inclination, or disposition; as, a genius
for history, for poetry, or painting.

3. Peculiar character; animating spirit, as of a nation, a
religion, a language.

4. Distinguished mental superiority; uncommon intellectual
power; especially, superior power of invention or
origination of any kind, or of forming new combinations;
as, a man of genius.

Genius of the highest kind implies an unusual
intensity of the modifyng power. --Coleridge.

5. A man endowed with uncommon vigor of mind; a man of
superior intellectual faculties; as, Shakespeare was a
rare genius.

Syn: {Genius}, {Talent}.

Usage: Genius implies high and peculiar gifts of nature,
impelling the mind to certain favorite kinds of mental
effort, and producing new combinations of ideas,
imagery, etc. Talent supposes general strength of
intellect, with a peculiar aptitude for being molded
and directed to specific employments and valuable ends
and purposes. Genius is connected more or less with
the exercise of imagination, and reaches its ends by a
kind of intuitive power. Talent depends more on high
mental training, and a perfect command of all the
faculties, memory, judgment, sagacity, etc. Hence we
speak of a genius for poetry, painting. etc., and a
talent for business or diplomacy. Among English
orators, Lord Chatham was distinguished for his
genius; William Pitt for his pre["e]minent talents,
and especially his unrivaled talent for debate.

From WordNet (r) 1.7 (wn)

n 1: someone who has exceptional intellectual ability and
originality [syn: {mastermind}, {brain}]
2: unusual mental ability [syn: {brilliance}]
3: someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field [syn: {ace},
{adept}, {sensation}, {maven}, {virtuoso}, {hotshot}, {star},
{whiz}, {whizz}, {wizard}, {wiz}]
4: exceptional creative ability [syn: {wizardry}]
5: a natural talent; "he has a flair for mathematics"; "he has
a genius for interior decorating" [syn: {flair}]

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