In philosophy, nous is the mind's ability to clearly understand what is true. You might think of nous as reason or intellect.

The exact definition of nous varies, depending on whether you're talking to a philosopher, historian, or religious thinker. In Christianity, the nous is the mind, as distinguished from the soul. You can also think of this as the distinction between thinking and feeling. Classic philosophy defines nous as the part of a person's mind that allows them to think rationally and understand. During the 18th century, nous was briefly popular as college slang for "wit or cleverness."

Definitions of nous
  1. noun
    that which is responsible for one's thoughts and feelings; the seat of the faculty of reason
    synonyms: brain, head, mind, psyche
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    an informal British expression for head or mind
    tabula rasa
    a young mind not yet affected by experience (according to John Locke)
    (psychoanalysis) the conscious mind
    unconscious, unconscious mind
    that part of the mind wherein psychic activity takes place of which the person is unaware
    subconscious, subconscious mind
    psychic activity just below the level of awareness
    type of:
    cognition, knowledge, noesis
    the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning
  2. noun
    common sense
    “she has great social nous
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘nous'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up nous for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer