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  1. capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.
  2. manifestation of a high mental capacity: He writes with intelligence and wit.
  3. the faculty of understanding.
  4. knowledge of an event, circumstance, etc., received or imparted; news; information.
  5. the gathering or distribution of information, especially secret information.
  6. Government.
    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.
  7. interchange of information: They have been maintaining intelligence with foreign agents for years.
  8. Christian Science. a fundamental attribute of God, or infinite Mind.
  9. (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 formshy·per·in·tel·li·gence, nounnon·in·tel·li·gence, nounpre·in·tel·li·gence, nounsu·per·in·tel·li·gence, noun

Synonyms for intelligence

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1. See mind. 2. discernment, reason, acumen, aptitude, penetration.

Antonyms for intelligence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for intelligence


  1. the capacity for understanding; ability to perceive and comprehend meaning
  2. good mental capacitya person of intelligence
  3. old-fashioned news; information
  4. military information about enemies, spies, etc
  5. a group or department that gathers or deals with such information
  6. (often capital) an intelligent being, esp one that is not embodied
  7. (modifier) of or relating to intelligencean intelligence network
Derived Formsintelligential, adjective

Word Origin for intelligence

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

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

intelligence in Medicine


  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.