in·tel·li·gence | \in-ˈte-lə-jən(t)s \

Definition of intelligence 

1a(1) : the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : reason also : the skilled use of reason

(2) : the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (such as tests)

c : mental acuteness : shrewdness

b Christian Science : the basic eternal quality of divine Mind

2a : information, news

b : information concerning an enemy or possible enemy or an area also : an agency engaged in obtaining such information

3 : the act of understanding : comprehension

4 : the ability to perform computer functions

5a : intelligent minds or mind cosmic intelligence

b : an intelligent entity especially : angel

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Examples of intelligence in a Sentence

She impressed us with her superior intelligence. a person of average intelligence gathering intelligence about a neighboring country's activities
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Recent Examples on the Web

Mueller's office charged that Guccifer 2.0 was a fictitious identity for a group of hackers who worked for the GRU, a Russian intelligence service. Brad Heath, USA TODAY, "Mueller: Congressional candidate sought stolen emails from Russian spies in 2016," 13 July 2018 Besides Kukoo, there is Anjali Mathur (Radhika Apte), an agent from RAW, India’s intelligence service. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Sacred Games Reinvents the Police Procedural," 12 July 2018 McIntyre is one of WWE’s beacons of light, with a tremendously bright future courtesy of his size, intelligence, in-ring work, and overall look. Justin Barrasso,, "The Week in Wrestling: Tama Tonga Says Bullet Club Civil War ‘Has Been a Long Time Coming’," 11 July 2018 The Kremlin also had a motive: Sergei Skripal was a member of a Russian intelligence service, known as the GRU, who was convicted in 2006 of handing over the names of 300 Russian agents to the British. Madeleine Ngo, Vox, "A British couple was poisoned with a lethal toxin. The UK is blaming Russia.," 5 July 2018 Unlike our Russian counterparts, U.S. intelligence services are, and should always remain, in service to the principles of our republic, our society’s order and the free and legitimate elections that support it. WSJ, "The Facts, When Revealed, Will Tell All of It," 29 June 2018 Reports that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — which have been confirmed by U.S. intelligence service — have threatened to bring rising tensions to a head. Nash Jenkins, Time, "What We Know About Trump's Summit With Putin (So Far)," 28 June 2018 Some of the attacks were stopped just before they were scheduled to begin, added the intelligence service. Yaakov Lappin,, "Shin Bet reports breaking up Hamas terror cell in West Bank," 19 June 2018 Kelton believes that Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, poisoned him in retaliation for the raid. Scott Johnson, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Americans' Cast and Crew Talk Espionage Tricks With CIA Spies," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intelligence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of intelligence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for intelligence

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin intelligentia, from intelligent-, intelligens intelligent

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Phrases Related to intelligence

insult someone's intelligence

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Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for intelligence

The first known use of intelligence was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for intelligence



English Language Learners Definition of intelligence

: the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations

: secret information that a government collects about an enemy or possible enemy; also : a government organization that collects such information


in·tel·li·gence | \in-ˈte-lə-jəns \

Kids Definition of intelligence

1 : the ability to learn and understand The test measures intelligence.

2 : secret information collected about an enemy or a possible enemy


in·tel·li·gence | \in-ˈtel-ə-jən(t)s \

Medical Definition of intelligence 

1a : the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations

b : the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)

2 : mental acuteness

Other Words from intelligence

intelligent \in-ˈtel-ə-jənt \ adjective
intelligently adverb

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Comments on intelligence

What made you want to look up intelligence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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