Google lists the etymology of the words "intelligible" and "unintelligible" as coming from "intelligent". This makes sense to a degree as the word refers to speech that can be interpreted intelligently to produce meaning.

I must ask, however, what the verb form would be to "ascertain the intelligibility of something"? Surely it isn't "intellige" or "intel". Does such a form exist? Should it?

  • The root is Latin "intellegere", to understand: - late 14c., "able to understand, intelligent," from Latin intelligibilis, intellegibilis "that can understand; that can be understood," from intellegere "to understand, come to know" etymonline.com/index.php?term=intelligible
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 9:47
  • @JOSH That would make a perfectly good answer.
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 9:53
  • 1
    @Mick I disagree; I think we can do better than to use "intelligere" as a verb. JOSH, I appreciate your correction.
    – seagull
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 10:09
  • 2
    Wiktionary gives intelligibile as the neuter, singular, third declension of intelligibilis (understandable, intelligible), but if you already knew this, why ask the question?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 10:19
  • 1
    You are assuming that all the adjectives derived from a certain root should have a verb from the same root. No, it doesn't work that way. Do we have a verb form from important? Can you use "to import" to mean a verb form of important?
    – user140086
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 10:36

2 Answers 2


The Oxford English Dictionary does list "intellect" as a verb. It's a fairly obvious coinage, in one sense: English adaptations of Latin verbs are usually formed from the Latin past participle (compare elect, eligible, both from Latin eligere, past participle electus).

It does not define it as meaning "ascertain the intelligibility of something." It just says " To understand or interpret by means of intellect. Now chiefly Philos."

There's a citation from 2006 that also features the uncommon related word "intellectible":

2006 F. E. Cranz Reorientations of Western Thought x. 5 "The forms in matter..are not intellectibles or intellects in their own right; they have become such only in the intellect which intellects them."

Whether or not this word should exist is a matter of opinion.

Words ending in -ible don't always have related verbs. For example, the adjective legible does not have a corresponding adjective "lect". We just have to use the English word "read." We also don't have a verb that comes from the Latin verb edere, the source of edible, although it is technically distantly related to the English verb "eat".


Since English is such a flexible language, and these days, you can do pretty much what you like with it, I propose to coin a neologism:

Intellect: transitive verb - to understand the meaning of

  • I intellected his execrable English.
  • Can't you intellect my English, you exasperating pedant?


  • Intellection
  • Intellective
  • Intellectual
  • Intellectualism
  • Intellectualisation (BrE)
  • Intellectualise (BrE)
  • Intellectually
  • Intelligence
  • Intelligencer
  • Intelligent
  • Intelligential
  • Intelligently
  • Intelligentia
  • Intelligentsia
  • Intelligibility
  • Intelligible
  • Intelligibly

Mick's (Highly) Selective Dictionary of the English Language (in progress)

Note: We are not entirely certain that neologism is a correct term for the repurposing of an existing word. A newly-coined term for inventing a word that doesn't appear in the dictionary but should is sniglet.

  • 1
    Tell me when you publish this dictionary, that I might procure it and proceed post-haste to bludgeoning people with it.
    – seagull
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 11:36
  • That's a 404 page. Also, what I like to do with English is preserve the nuances of its presently existing words, so if this were just a S.W.R. I'd prefer a neologism to this. However also looks like the questioner is looking for an existing etymological link, so this answer is invalid unless you can provide some evidence that this is more than a suggested use of the word. Also, if you want to keep parts of your dictionary proprietary, you might want to reconsider posting those parts here, since S.E. forces members to adopt the CC-BY-SA license, if able, as indicated at the bottom of this page.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 21:42
  • @Tonepoet What dictionary?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 1:07
  • @Mick Is it a coincidence that your name is Mick and you posted a link to "Mick's (Highly) Selective Dictionary of the English Language (in progress)", or maybe a joke? I figured I might as well post a reminder if it wasn't, just in order to mitigate against any potential snafus.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 4:03
  • @Tonepoet What do you think?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 4:05

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