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[in-tel-i-juh ns] /ɪnˈtɛl ɪ dʒəns/
capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.
manifestation of a high mental capacity:
He writes with intelligence and wit.
the faculty of understanding.
knowledge of an event, circumstance, etc., received or imparted; news; information.
the gathering or distribution of information, especially secret information.
  1. information about an enemy or a potential enemy.
  2. the evaluated conclusions drawn from such information.
  3. an organization or agency engaged in gathering such information:
    military intelligence; naval intelligence.
interchange of information:
They have been maintaining intelligence with foreign agents for years.
Christian Science. a fundamental attribute of God, or infinite Mind.
(often initial capital letter) an intelligent being or spirit, especially an incorporeal one, as an angel.
Origin of intelligence
First recorded in 1350-1400; Middle English word from Latin word intelligentia. See intelligent, -ence
Related forms
hyperintelligence, noun
nonintelligence, noun
preintelligence, noun
superintelligence, noun
1. See mind. 2. discernment, reason, acumen, aptitude, penetration.
2. stupidity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for intelligence
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Constantine the Great was certainly a monarch of great devotion and intelligence.

  • It was at the idea that he could forget such a piece of intelligence.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • intelligence was just then brought him from Warsaw and the Austrian army.

    History of the Expedition to Russia Count Philip de Segur
  • He went down into the after cabin, and returned with the intelligence that it was where he had put it.

    Up the River Oliver Optic
  • Her face has been, I should think, a fine and handsome one, and her bright gray eye is still full of intelligence and fire.

    Pencillings by the Way N. Parker Willis
British Dictionary definitions for intelligence


the capacity for understanding; ability to perceive and comprehend meaning
good mental capacity: a person of intelligence
(old-fashioned) news; information
military information about enemies, spies, etc
a group or department that gathers or deals with such information
(often capital) an intelligent being, esp one that is not embodied
(modifier) of or relating to intelligence: an intelligence network
Derived Forms
intelligential, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Latin intellegentia, from intellegere to discern, comprehend, literally: choose between, from inter- + legere to choose
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 intelligence

late 14c., "faculty of understanding," from Old French intelligence (12c.), from Latin intelligentia, intellegentia "understanding, power of discerning; art, skill, taste," from intelligentem (nominative intelligens) "discerning," present participle of intelligere "to understand, comprehend," from inter- "between" (see inter-) + legere "choose, pick out, read" (see lecture (n.)).

Meaning superior understanding, sagacity" is from early 15c. Sense of "information, news" first recorded mid-15c., especially "secret information from spies" (1580s). Intelligence quotient first recorded 1921 (see I.Q.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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intelligence in Medicine

intelligence in·tel·li·gence (ĭn-těl'ə-jəns)

  1. The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, especially toward a purposeful goal.

  2. An individual's relative standing on two quantitative indices, namely measured intelligence, as expressed by an intelligence quotient, and effectiveness of adaptive behavior.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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