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[in-tel-i-juh nt] /ɪnˈtɛl ɪ dʒənt/
having good understanding or a high mental capacity; quick to comprehend, as persons or animals:
an intelligent student.
displaying or characterized by quickness of understanding, sound thought, or good judgment:
an intelligent reply.
having the faculty of reasoning and understanding; possessing intelligence:
intelligent beings in outer space.
Computers. pertaining to the ability to do data processing locally; smart:
An intelligent terminal can edit input before transmission to a host computer.
Compare dumb (def 8).
Archaic. having understanding or knowledge (usually followed by of).
Origin of intelligent
1500-10; < Latin intelligent- (stem of intelligēns, present participle of intelligere, variant of intellegere to understand, literally, choose between), equivalent to intel- (variant of inter- inter-) + -lig- (combining form of leg-, stem of legere to pick up, choose; cf. lection) + -ent- -ent
Related forms
intelligently, adverb
hyperintelligent, adjective
hyperintelligently, adverb
nonintelligent, adjective
nonintelligently, adverb
preintelligent, adjective
preintelligently, adverb
quasi-intelligent, adjective
quasi-intelligently, adverb
semi-intelligent, adjective
semi-intelligently, adverb
superintelligent, adjective
Can be confused
intelligent, intelligible, intellectual (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. bright. Intelligent, intellectual describe distinctive mental capacity. Intelligent often suggests a natural quickness of understanding: an intelligent reader. Intellectual implies not only having a high degree of understanding, but also a capacity and taste for the higher forms of knowledge: intellectual interests. 2. astute, clever, alert, bright, apt, discerning, shrewd, smart. See sharp.
1, 2. stupid. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for intelligent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Ipswich had been organized in 1635 with some of the most intelligent and wealthy colonists.

    Log-book of Timothy Boardman Samuel W Boardman
  • Is this an intelligent group of men, these farmers and business men?

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • On whom one can rely for a hearing and for intelligent appreciation, Miss Selford.

    Double Harness Anthony Hope
  • It shows one appreciates the books and takes an intelligent interest.

  • Aye, so it has, agreed Mrs. Parry Wynn, intelligent an—an—lively.

    Through Welsh Doorways Jeannette Augustus Marks
British Dictionary definitions for intelligent


having or indicating intelligence
having high intelligence; clever
indicating high intelligence; perceptive: an intelligent guess
guided by reason; rational
(of computerized functions) able to modify action in the light of ongoing events
(archaic) (postpositive) foll by of. having knowledge or information: they were intelligent of his whereabouts
Derived Forms
intelligently, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for intelligent

c.1500, a back-formation from intelligence or else from Latin intelligentem (nominative intelligens), present participle of intelligere, earlier intellegere (see intelligence). Intelligent design, as a name for an alternative to atheistic cosmology and the theory of evolution, is from 1999. Related: Intelligently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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