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

Other Words from intelligent

intelligential \ in-​ˌte-​lə-​ˈjen(t)-​shəl How to pronounce intelligent (audio) \ adjective
intelligently \ in-​ˈte-​lə-​jənt-​lē How to pronounce intelligent (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 Cancer babies are known for being empathetic, nurturers and are emotionally intelligent. Katarina Avendano, Good Housekeeping, 17 May 2022 Greg, scientists now believe great white sharks are intelligent, so lose the nickname. Nick Canepacolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 May 2022 Pierce is also remarkably intelligent, on the field and off, a key development for a wide receiver in an offense that asks its wide receivers to make adjustments and route changes on almost every play, based on what the secondary is doing. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, 14 May 2022 All this gets distilled, among regular, intelligent, more or less centrist people on the ground, into a question: Is the next presidential election really going to be Trump vs. Biden again? Peggy Noonan, WSJ, 12 May 2022 Many successful, intelligent, technical people actually said the iPhone would fail — as amazing as that sounds today — because people wouldn’t want it. Nabil Bukhari, Forbes, 6 May 2022 One person’s high value might be a high salary; another person might care only that their future partner is emotionally intelligent or can hold their own in a conversation. Eve Upton-clark,, 21 Apr. 2022 There are not just intelligent people, mammals, birds and cephalopods. Rafael Yuste, Scientific American, 11 Dec. 2021 Dumont’s subject is the mass production of cynicism, the rewards that await intelligent people for purveying stupidity. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 30 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of intelligent was circa 1540

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Dictionary Entries Near intelligent



intelligent design

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Intelligent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for intelligent


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

More from Merriam-Webster on intelligent

Nglish: Translation of intelligent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intelligent for Arabic Speakers


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