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

Sarah Lacy, Nick Bilton have a more critical eye and a more intelligent, analytical way of looking at it, but a lot of the stuff that gets written about ... Eric Johnson, Recode, "Swiping on Tinder is addictive. That’s partly because it was inspired by an experiment that ‘turned pigeons into gamblers.’," 19 Sep. 2018 In the future, the MIT team hopes to build a stronger, more intelligent version of this robot that can be used for tasks such as medical procedures or cleaning up radioactive waste. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "These Soft, Magnetic Robots May One Day Crawl Inside Your Body," 13 June 2018 The researchers unveiled the terrifying robosnake at an annual international conference on intelligent robots this month. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "A new snakebot proves that climbing ladders won’t save you from killer robots," 15 Oct. 2018 Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel, Peru Just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, this 16th-century colonial-style mansion has been thoughtfully updated with intelligent oxygen enrichment systems, heated floors, and hot tubs in 43 suites. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Hotels in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Picutre an intelligent, laser-wielding robot that can analyze the damage and 3D-print the needed titanium alloy parts from an onboard supply of metallic dust. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "How Putting A.I. Brains Into 3D Printers Will Change the Game for the Navy," 1 Oct. 2018 And maybe, just maybe, that’s because most consumers have given up on the idea of privacy in our times — or believe that the risk-reward balance of technologies like Alexa tilt in the direction of our new artificially intelligent overlords. Jason Del Rey, Recode, "Amazon’s blockbuster Alexa event made zero mention of privacy concerns — and that may say more about us than about them," 20 Sep. 2018 Ellie's new owners should prioritize obedience training as Ellie is a very intelligent dog who becomes bored when she's not stimulated enough. Peggy Calhoun, idahostatesman, "Ada County Pet of the Week: Ellie | Idaho Statesman," 16 May 2018 Many intelligent people, looking at the same footage, walked away from it with very different conclusions. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The fake video era of US politics has arrived on Twitter," 9 Nov. 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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Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for intelligent

The first known use of intelligent was circa 1540

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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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living or existing for a long time

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