in·tel·li·gent | \in-ˈte-lə-jənt \

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 \ adjective
intelligently \in-ˈte-lə-jənt-lē \ 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

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.

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

Photograph by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images Humanity has long wondered whether other worlds have life intelligent enough to build advanced civilizations. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "We May Be All Alone in the Known Universe, a New Oxford Study Suggests," 27 June 2018 For six hours a day over the next two months, Drake and his team listened on a single frequency (1420 MHz) for signs of intelligent life. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "We Can Explore Instead of Believe: Inside the Epic Hunt for E.T.," 30 Apr. 2018 This number alone boosts the hope of finding intelligent life. Meghan Bartels, Newsweek, "Do Aliens Exist? Human Technology May Prevent Us From Finding Out," 1 Mar. 2018 Cost: $8,500 Exact Classic Bulldogs A stubborn but docile breed, bulldogs love people and attention and are extremely intelligent. Nadine Jolie Courtney, Town & Country, "The Fanciest Dog Breeders Across the Country," 19 Oct. 2016 Well, intelligent people can get confused sometimes. Michael Rosenberg,, "One Big Question Must Be Answered Before the NBA Can Correct Its Competitive Balance," 10 July 2018 Caliban is highly intelligent, knowledgeable in an uncanny way about the ways of the island. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Puzzled by Westworld? Look to Shakespeare.," 26 June 2018 People are intelligent, thoughtful, driven, and truly care about each other and about driving results for our clients. Fortune, "Horizon Media," 26 June 2018 Why, then, do intelligent people refuse to accept that the goals of the antidrug crusade haven't been, and cannot be, achieved by prohibition? WSJ, "Legalizing Marijuana: The Pros and Cons," 20 June 2018

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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Phrases Related to intelligent

intelligent life

Statistics for intelligent

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for intelligent

The first known use of intelligent was circa 1540

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More Definitions for intelligent



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 \

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



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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Comments on intelligent

What made you want to look up intelligent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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