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 formsin·tel·li·gent·ly, adverbhy·per·in·tel·li·gent, adjectivehy·per·in·tel·li·gent·ly, adverbnon·in·tel·li·gent, adjectivenon·in·tel·li·gent·ly, adverbpre·in·tel·li·gent, adjectivepre·in·tel·li·gent·ly, adverbqua·si-in·tel·li·gent, adjectivequa·si-in·tel·li·gent·ly, adverbsem·i-in·tel·li·gent, adjectivesem·i-in·tel·li·gent·ly, adverbsu·per·in·tel·li·gent, adjective
Can be confusedintelligent intelligible intellectual (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for intelligent

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.

Antonyms for intelligent

1, 2. stupid. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for intelligent

Contemporary Examples of intelligent

Historical Examples of intelligent

  • It is composed of a brave, a free, a virtuous, and an intelligent people.

  • He was handsome and possessed a most intelligent and expressive countenance.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Now it was another and older man, daring, intelligent, unscrupulous.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • He once had been friendly with all his intelligent neighbors, no matter what their nationality.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • To get justice, or even an intelligent hearing, from these people, was hopeless.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for intelligent



having or indicating intelligence
having high intelligence; clever
indicating high intelligence; perceptivean intelligent guess
guided by reason; rational
(of computerized functions) able to modify action in the light of ongoing events
(postpositive foll by of) archaic having knowledge or informationthey were intelligent of his whereabouts
Derived Formsintelligently, 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

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