April 23, 2012
cerebral (adjective)
\suh-REE-brul\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : of or relating to the brain2 : of, relating to, or being the cerebrum3 : intellectual
How do you use it?
With her love of biographies, museums, and all things scientific, Rosa is a bit too cerebral for many of her 5th-grade peers.
Are you a word wiz?

"Cerebral" was first used by speakers of English in the early 1800s, which makes it a relative newcomer to the English language. Which of the following words do you think also entered English in the 1800s?

Good thinking if you chose D! "Cerebral" and "brainy" -- which means "intelligent" -- were first used in English in the 1800s. "Cerebral" first meant "relating to the brain," and within a century was also being used figuratively to mean "intellectual." Another brainy word from the 1800s is "gray matter," which refers to nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord, or which can mean "intellect." In the 1600s, English speakers were using "scholarly" to mean "characteristic of or suitable to learned persons." And all the way back in the 1500s, people with smarts could be described with the words "bookish" and "intelligent."
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