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 Related: Burr — the head of the Senate's intelligence committee — sold stocks valued between $628,000 and $1.72 million in 33 separate transactions on Feb. 13, public disclosures reported by ProPublica show. Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY, "In California: What are shelter-in-place rules? And booze, yes, is now to-go," 20 Mar. 2020 As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, "The Senator Who Dumped His Stocks Before the Coronavirus Crash Has Asked Ethics Officials for a “Complete Review”," 20 Mar. 2020 Trump will never get past the fact that Obama was loved because of his intelligence, compassion, humor and humanity. Kareem Abdul-jabbar, The Hollywood Reporter, "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Trump's Coronavirus Reaction Reminds of 'Hunters' Nazi Conspiracy," 18 Mar. 2020 His artificial-intelligence company, Incite, owns and runs Rehoboam. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "What Is Rehoboam on Westworld Season 3?," 16 Mar. 2020 Congress in December mandated such briefings for leadership and the House and Senate intelligence committees. Seung Min Kim,, "Trump’s acting intelligence chief declines to meet with Congress for election threats briefing," 10 Mar. 2020 One of the first things that stands out about Hayes to Brown is his intelligence. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Why Isaiah Hayes could be part of solution to Louisville football's depth concerns at safety," 4 Mar. 2020 Klobuchar also was quickly overshadowed by Buttigieg, a fellow Midwesterner who shot from being the largely unknown mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to a top contender on a mix of intelligence, strong oratory and youthful optimism. Sara Burnett, Houston Chronicle, "Sen. Amy Klobuchar is ending her presidential bid, will endorse Biden," 2 Mar. 2020 When a leader like (US President Donald) Trump is in the country, the intelligence (officials) should have been more vigilant. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "After 34 deaths and global stink, an uneasy calm hangs over riot-hit Delhi," 26 Feb. 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

30 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intelligence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 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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