in·​tel·​li·​gence | \ in-ˈte-lə-jən(t)s How to pronounce intelligence (audio) \

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
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 During his tenure, Coats repeatedly rebuffed Trump's efforts to downplay the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia tried to sway the 2016 election in his favor. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Bob Woodward book takeaways: Trump admits 'playing' down COVID threat, secret nuclear program, Kim Jong Un letters," 9 Sep. 2020 With intelligence indicating the Russians are at it again for the current election, this film, which explores how America’s political process is vulnerable to disinformation, sounds painfully relevant. oregonlive, "Fall TV 2020: Your guide to premiere dates for new and returning shows," 4 Sep. 2020 The intelligence community has concluded that Russia, China and Iran are all actively interfering in the 2020 election. Grace Segers, CBS News, "DHS confirms it withheld intel report on Russia denigrating Biden's health, citing "quality concerns"," 2 Sep. 2020 Pelosi was relaying the words of the intelligence community. Politifact Staff, Detroit Free Press, "Fact-checking Mike Pence, night three of Republican National Convention 2020," 28 Aug. 2020 Deripaska is mentioned 64 times in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and the U.S. intelligence community reportedly believes the Kremlin relied on Deripaska to spread disinformation casting doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Senate report details Christopher Steele's relationship with Putin-linked Russian oligarch," 27 Aug. 2020 Artificial intelligence has been around for a while to help make transcriptions quicker and easier. Shannon Liao, CNN, "Microsoft Word can now transcribe lectures and phone calls," 26 Aug. 2020 Artificial intelligence has been much in the news lately, driven by ever cheaper computer processing power that has become effectively a near universal commodity. Christof Koch, Scientific American, "Teaching Machines to See," 1 Nov. 2015 German doctors treating Navalny in Berlin said Monday that clinical results indicated Navalny was poisoned, a method used in other recent attacks on dissidents linked to Russian agents by Western intelligence officials. Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post, "Russia’s Putin ready to send forces to Belarus if unrest ‘gets out of control’," 27 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for intelligence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for intelligence

Last Updated

12 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intelligence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for intelligence


How to pronounce intelligence (audio)

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 How to pronounce intelligence (audio) \

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 How to pronounce intelligence (audio) \

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 How to pronounce intelligent (audio) \ adjective
intelligently adverb

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