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 Real-time threat feeds are an important part of enabling this with actionable threat intelligence on the latest threats, campaigns, actors and trends. Renee Tarun, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 Artificial intelligence predicted what structure might work as an antibiotic by sifting through a pile of existing drug compounds. Peter Andrey Smith, STAT, 10 Sep. 2021 Giuliani allegedly recruited Parnas and Furman to search for intelligence overseas that would incriminate Biden in advance of the 2020 election., 10 Sep. 2021 The program begins in September and ends in May focusing on professional development by building communication, strategic thinking skills, and emotional intelligence. Sam Boyer, cleveland, 10 Sep. 2021 The credentials have been offered by multiple Russian-speaking cybercriminals, according to Mark Arena, chief executive officer of security-intelligence firm Intel 471. William Turton And Kartikay Mehrotra / Bloomberg, Time, 9 Sep. 2021 Facial recognition, gait detection, and intelligence nerve centers like the NYPD Domain Awareness System can transform static images to a dynamic tracking net, reconstructing our movements and actions throughout the day. Albert Fox Cahn, Wired, 9 Sep. 2021 Then, America invaded, buoyed by false intelligence that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction. Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2021 Finally, there's the question of intelligence value to America's adversaries. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 9 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near intelligence

intellectual virtue



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Statistics for intelligence

Last Updated

13 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Intelligence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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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 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 intelligence (audio) \ adjective
intelligently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on intelligence

Nglish: Translation of intelligence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intelligence for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about intelligence


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