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’
    • ‘But her commercial nous is also easily discernible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘David Aaronovitch accuses the intelligentsia of prejudice, cynicism and a lack of political nous in criticising Tony Blair’
    • ‘‘Active mandates’ - in which investment managers use their nous to decide where to invest for greater returns - command much higher fees.’
    • ‘It was a victory for footballing nous over naivety; intelligence over hopefulness.’
    • ‘Fishermen rely on their nous and their knowledge, two things that will be useless in a time of change.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whatever way you set out your side, however, Celtic have the options, power and nous to undo any game plan.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So, they acquiesced in the game of the Democratic Leadership Council, surrendered their political nous and sold their souls to arbiters of ‘mainstream’ liberalism.’
    • ‘They maximise their strengths with a combination of superb execution, footballing nous and street wisdom.’
    • ‘At least they appear to possess more nous [common sense] than is often credited to viewers of that kind of program.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’.