Definition of nous in English:



mass noun
  • 1British informal Common sense; practical intelligence.

    ‘if he had any nous at all, he'd sell the film rights’
    • ‘Fishermen rely on their nous and their knowledge, two things that will be useless in a time of change.’
    • ‘But her commercial nous is also easily discernible.’
    • ‘McAllister's performances caught the eye of Liverpool manager Houllier, who was searching for an experienced campaigner to add nous and wisdom to his young midfield.’
    • ‘But it is hardly surprising - when just about every aspect of the curriculum is now prescribed by the government - that teachers feel impotent to use their own know-how and nous.’
    • ‘Within the army there is a general opinion that some officers make good field commanders, but may not have the strategic sense to progress higher up the ranks or the political nous to become a top general.’
    • ‘What is it about the Dutch that enables a comparatively small nation to produce consecutive generations of players who are streets ahead of their European contemporaries in terms of technique and tactical nous?’
    • ‘So, they acquiesced in the game of the Democratic Leadership Council, surrendered their political nous and sold their souls to arbiters of ‘mainstream’ liberalism.’
    • ‘It was a victory for footballing nous over naivety; intelligence over hopefulness.’
    • ‘‘Active mandates’ - in which investment managers use their nous to decide where to invest for greater returns - command much higher fees.’
    • ‘David Aaronovitch accuses the intelligentsia of prejudice, cynicism and a lack of political nous in criticising Tony Blair’
    • ‘Sure, it's not brain surgery, but surely we all agree there is is a certain amount of skill and nous and business acumen involved in running a restaurant.’
    • ‘Keeping sport free of harmful manifestations of politics is another matter, but few sports have ever had leaders with either the will or the political nous to try.’
    • ‘They maximise their strengths with a combination of superb execution, footballing nous and street wisdom.’
    • ‘Students will take elements of the university's MBA programme because as well as having the technological skills, companies prefer someone who also has business nous.’
    • ‘Whatever way you set out your side, however, Celtic have the options, power and nous to undo any game plan.’
    • ‘Her political nous and plain-speaking (she speaks five languages) made her an instant hit on the political circuit, particularly with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.’
    • ‘I'm on borrowed time in the game, but I'm probably getting by on a bit of nous, a bit of guile, and a bit of competitive instinct.’
    • ‘At least they appear to possess more nous [common sense] than is often credited to viewers of that kind of program.’
    • ‘What's more, South Africa, who have not been known for their tactical know-how in recent years, are showing a lot more nous under White's leadership.’
    • ‘Indeed his new team-mates credited his nous as a key factor in their surprising but enterprising victory at Newport in the Celtic League kick-off a week earlier.’
    good sense, sense, sensibleness, native wit, native intelligence, mother wit, wit, judgement, sound judgement, level-headedness, prudence, discernment, acumen, sharpness, sharp-wittedness, canniness, astuteness, shrewdness, judiciousness, wisdom, insight, intuition, intuitiveness, perceptiveness, perspicacity, vision, understanding, intelligence, reason, powers of reasoning
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  • 2Philosophy
    The mind or intellect.

    • ‘In antiquity commentators traditionally referred to this intellect as the active intellect, nous poiêtikos.’
    • ‘Sorcery is a tiny facet of magic, whose final goal is the realisation of nous and the unification of heaven and earth.’
    • ‘The Greek word for repentance is metanoia (from meta, ‘after’, and nous, ‘mind’).’
    • ‘However, it was the power of nous, or mind, that not only created the world but also was the driving force in its day to day processes.’
    • ‘At first the seeds lay mingled without order; but nous set the unarranged matter into motion, and thereby created out of chaos an orderly world.’
    rationality, logic, logical thought, scientific thinking, reasoning, thought, cognition
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Late 17th century (in nous (sense 2)): from Greek, ‘mind, intelligence, intuitive apprehension’.