in·​tel·​li·​gent | \ in-ˈte-lə-jənt How to pronounce intelligent (audio) \

Definition of intelligent

1a : having or indicating a high or satisfactory degree of intelligence and mental capacity
b : revealing or reflecting good judgment or sound thought : skillful
2a : possessing intelligence
b : guided or directed by intellect : rational
3a : guided or controlled by a computer especially : smart sense 7c — compare dumb sense 7
b : able to produce printed material from digital signals an intelligent copier

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Other Words from intelligent

intelligential \ in-​ˌte-​lə-​ˈjen(t)-​shəl How to pronounce intelligential (audio) \ adjective
intelligently \ in-​ˈte-​lə-​jənt-​lē How to pronounce intelligently (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for intelligent

intelligent, clever, alert, quick-witted mean mentally keen or quick. intelligent stresses success in coping with new situations and solving problems. an intelligent person could assemble it fast clever implies native ability or aptness and sometimes suggests a lack of more substantial qualities. clever with words alert stresses quickness in perceiving and understanding. alert to new technology quick-witted implies promptness in finding answers in debate or in devising expedients in moments of danger or challenge. no match for his quick-witted opponent

Examples of intelligent in a Sentence

She asked some intelligent questions. He's a hard worker but he's not very intelligent.
Recent Examples on the Web Good-natured, intelligent and untidy, Nye’s mother never paid much attention to stacks of catalogues, junk mail and crumbs, said Nye. Washington Post, "Trash has long been treasure for poet Naomi Shihab Nye," 15 Apr. 2020 The Trial of a Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation: There was clearly a great deal of buying and selling to save Andrew Johnson; Representative Thaddeus Stevens said anyone could be bought, even the most intelligent and well-educated. Time, "Where Trump's Acquittal Fits Into the History of Impeachment, According to Historians," 6 Feb. 2020 People were very sweet, very open, and there’s a lot of film lovers there who are very intelligent. Matt Wake |, al, "Muscle Shoals song in HBO’s J.J. Abrams series trailer," 5 May 2020 The Indian nation and its people are highly intelligent. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "A veteran says Bollywood won’t be influenced by “temporary” communal issues in India," 23 Apr. 2020 This new evidence suggests human ancestors were more intelligent than previously thought. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "The World’s Oldest String Belonged To an Enterprising Neanderthal," 20 Apr. 2020 What makes the party more intelligent and able to pick the presidential nominee than the people? Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "'Not about switching parties': Democratic state lawmaker in Georgia endorses Trump reelection," 14 Apr. 2020 The 6-foot-4 lineman is an intelligent and coachable player. Tyler Dragon,, "Report card: Cincinnati Bengals' sixth-round grade after drafting Kansas OL Hakeem Adeniji," 25 Apr. 2020 Josh is an intelligent and highly skilled hitter with big-time drive. Dallas News, "Scouting the Rangers’ top prospects, No. 1: Texas’ top 2019 draft pick, Josh Jung, shows advanced hitting skills," 17 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intelligent.' 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 intelligent

circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for intelligent

Latin intelligent-, intelligens, present participle of intelligere, intellegere to understand, from inter- + legere to gather, select — more at legend

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Time Traveler for intelligent

Time Traveler

The first known use of intelligent was circa 1540

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Statistics for intelligent

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intelligent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for intelligent


How to pronounce intelligent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of intelligent

: having or showing the ability to easily learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations : having or showing a lot of intelligence
: able to learn and understand things
: having an ability to deal with problems or situations that resembles or suggests the ability of an intelligent person


in·​tel·​li·​gent | \ in-ˈte-lə-jənt How to pronounce intelligent (audio) \

Kids Definition of intelligent

1 : having or showing serious thought and good judgment an intelligent student an intelligent decision
2 : able to learn and understand Is there intelligent life on other planets?

Other Words from intelligent

intelligently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for intelligent

intelligent, clever, and brilliant mean having a good amount of mental ability. intelligent is used of a person who can handle new situations and solve problems. We need an intelligent person to run the company. clever is used of a person who learns very quickly. The clever youngster learned the trick in a few minutes. brilliant is used of a person whose mental ability is much greater than normal. A brilliant doctor discovered the cure for that disease.



Legal Definition of intelligent

: having or indicating a high or satisfactory degree of intelligence and mental capacity especially : having or indicating an understanding of the nature and consequences of an act or decision a knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel — compare knowing

Note: Under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), a waiver of rights must be knowing and intelligent.

Other Words from intelligent

intelligently adverb

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