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. Engine.] 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.
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.
2. The peculiar structure of mind with which
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 of the highest kind implies an unusual
intensity of the modifying power. Coleridge.
5. A man endowed with uncommon vigor of mind;
a man of superior intellectual faculties; as, Shakespeare was a rare
Syn. -- Genius, Talent. 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
preëminent talents, and especially his unrivaled
talent for debate.
||Genius loci (?) [L.], the genius or
presiding divinity of a place; hence, the pervading spirit of a place
or institution, as of a college, etc.