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

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
Recent Examples on the Web In an interview with Britain’s Sky News on Saturday, the country’s military intelligence chief, Maj. Marc Santora,, 14 May 2022 Colin Firth and Matthew Macfayden co-star as British intelligence officers who take charge of an unusual scheme cooked up in part by their underling Ian Fleming. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2022 Nearly 40 percent of bitcoin holders have lost money on their investment, data from crypto intelligence firm Glassnode shows. Pranshu Verma, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 At least 50 journalists and media workers in Afghanistan have been detained briefly or arrested by police or the Istikhbarat, the Taliban intelligence agency, since the Taliban returned to power, RSF said in early February. Somayeh Malekian, ABC News, 13 May 2022 Russia’s military hardware has also come under attack by its own side, according to Jeremy Fleming, the head of U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ. Chloe Taylor, Fortune, 12 May 2022 This movie is stacked with high-profile British acting talent, starting with Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen who play stiff-upper-lip intelligence officers. Andy Meek, BGR, 11 May 2022 In Washington, a top U.S. intelligence official testified Tuesday that eight to 10 Russian generals have been killed in the war. Elena Becatoros And Jon Gambrell, Anchorage Daily News, 11 May 2022 The pacts call for more intelligence sharing, joint military training and bolstering security. Matthew Luxmoore, WSJ, 11 May 2022 See More

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.

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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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

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Intelligence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for intelligence


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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