intelligent

intelligent 1 Intellectual, *mental, cerebral, psychic
2 Intelligent, clever, alert, quick-witted, bright, smart, knowing, brilliant are comparable when they mean mentally quick or keen.
Intelligent implies greater than average power to use one's mind successfully when demands are made upon it (as in understanding the new or abstruse or in meeting and solving problems)
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Puritanism presupposed an intelligent clergy capable of interpreting Scripture— Amer. Guide Series: Mass.

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the vigor of his quick and lucid mind, keenly intelligent rather than deeply intellectual— Lustgarten

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Clever implies resourcefulness or aptness more strongly than intelligent, and it emphasizes quickness in apprehension rather than fullness of comprehension, and dexterity or adroitness, rather than soundness, in the mental processes
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the poor girl liked to be thought clever, but she hated to be thought bookish— Henry James

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he could deal competently with effects, but he was not clever at assigning causes— Sinclair

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Often the word suggests a contrast with higher or more substantial qualities
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be good, sweet maid, and let who will be cleverKingsley

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a clever boy trains for an examination as he trains for a race; and goes out of training as fast as possible when it is over— Inge

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Alert stresses quickness in the mental processes, especially in comprehending a situation
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she seemed more feeble in body . . . but her mind was still alert—L. P. Smith

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after Munich alert observers urged more forcefully that our country must hurry to develop its military power— Feis

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Quick-witted also implies quickness in thinking but in addition it suggests promptness in action in an emergency, in response to a challenge, in conversation, or in debate
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we are not a quick-witted race; and we have succeeded ... by dint of a kind of instinct for improvising the right course of action— Inge

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Bright and smart are more often applied to young or promising persons than to those who are proficient or of proved intelligence.
Bright suggests cleverness that is manifested especially in liveness of mind or in liveliness of talk or manner
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how they could, who had once been so eager and bright, be so stodgy now— Edman

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bright young fellows with a charming literary swagger, they aspired to be wits— Partington

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Smart, too, implies cleverness but it also suggests alertness or quick-wittedness that enables one to get ahead
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I wish I was smart enough to invent something and maybe get rich— Anderson

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the master said he was the smartest lad in the school— D. H. Lawrence

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the race is no longer to the strong, but to the smartDrake

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Both words are used ironically, bright then implying dullness or stupidity and smart, pertness, facetiousness, or sometimes trickery or duplicity
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a smart aleck

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given to making smart retorts

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other bright ideas—some showing a superb neglect of practical feasibility, as well as of the welfare of any unfortunates who might happen to be in the experiment area—include the scattering of concentrated sulphuric acid— The Countryman

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I do not want ... to be converted by a smart syllogism— Birrell

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the smart work is hidden in the wording of the Monroe doctrine— Emporia Gazette

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Knowing carries a stronger implication than any of the preceding terms of the possession of information or knowledge that is necessary or useful under given circumstances
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the knowing collectors of records— Sat. Review

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bipartisanship, as a knowing Republican politician once remarked, is a fine thing—between elections— Collins

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Occasionally the term further suggests a less agreeable quality such as sophistication, secretiveness, or the possession of knowledge of others' secrets
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a knowing wink

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a face so mean, so knowingThackeray

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his work has a distasteful air of pretentious smartness, of being altogether too knowingRead

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Brilliant adds to intelligent the implication of unusual and outstanding keenness of intellect that manifests itself so openly or effectively as to excite admiration; the term usually suggests an opposition to qualities that characterize one whose mind works more slowly or cautiously
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a brilliant mathematician

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John Todhunter was esteemed a shrewd sensible man—only not brilliantMeredith

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Einstein's brilliant solution of the . . . puzzle— Zinsser

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the brilliant anthropologist whom de Gaulle wished to place in charge of a combined intelligence service— Funk

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Analogous words: *sharp, keen, acute: *shrewd, sagacious, perspicacious, astute: cunning, ingenious, adroit, *clever
Antonyms: unintelligent
Contrasted words: foolish, idiotic, imbecilic, moronic (see corresponding nouns at FOOL): *stupid, slow, dull, dense, crass, dumb: irrational, unreasonable

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • intelligent — intelligent, ente [ ɛ̃teliʒɑ̃, ɑ̃t ] adj. • 1488; lat. intellegens → intelligence 1 ♦ Qui a la faculté de connaître et de comprendre. Les êtres intelligents. ⇒ pensant. 2 ♦ Qui est, à un degré variable, doué d intelligence. ⇒ capable, éveillé,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • intelligent — intelligent, ente (in tèl li jan, jan t ) adj. 1°   Pourvu de la faculté de concevoir, de comprendre. •   Je parle, je chemine : Je sens en moi certain agent ; Tout obéit dans ma machine à ce principe intelligent, LA FONT. Fabl. X, 1. •   La… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Intelligent — In*tel li*gent, a. [L. intelligens, intellegens, entis, p. pr. of intelligere, intellegere, to perceive; inter between + legere to gather, collect, choose: cf. F. intelligent. See {Legend}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Endowed with the faculty of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intelligent — UK US /ɪnˈtelɪdʒənt/ adjective ► able to learn and understand things quickly and easily: »A lot of thoroughly intelligent, sensible people have fallen for the salesman s charm. »a highly intelligent businessperson »an intelligent… …   Financial and business terms

  • intelligent — Adj std. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus l. intellegēns ( entis), dem PPräs. von l. intellegere (intellēctum) verstehen, wahrnehmen, erkennen , zu l. legere zusammennehmen, ins Auge fallen, aussuchen und l. inter . Das lateinische Wort zu gr.… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • intelligent — Intelligent, [intellig]ente. adj. Pourveu de la faculté intellective, capable d entendre, & de raisonner. L homme est un estre intelligent. l Ange est une substance intelligente. En ce sens il n a guere d usage qu en ces phrases. Il signifie plus …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • intelligent — in·tel·li·gent adj: having or indicating a high or satisfactory degree of intelligence and mental capacity; esp: having or indicating an understanding of the nature and consequences of an act or decision a knowing and intelligent waiver of… …   Law dictionary

  • intelligent — intelligent: Das Adjektiv mit der Bedeutung »einsichtsvoll, ‹sach›verständig; klug, begabt« wurde im 18. Jh. aus lat. intelligens, intelligentis (Nebenform von intellegens) entlehnt. Dies ist Part. Präs. von intellegere (< *inter legere) »mit… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • intelligent — [in tel′ə jənt] adj. [L intelligens, prp. of intelligere: see INTELLECT] 1. having or using intelligence; rational 2. having or showing an alert mind or high intelligence; bright, perceptive, informed, clever, wise, etc. 3. a) designating or of a …   English World dictionary

  • intelligent — (adj.) c.1500, a back formation from intelligence or else from L. intelligentem (nom. intelligens), prp. of intelligere, earlier intellegere (see INTELLIGENCE (Cf. intelligence)). Intelligent design, as a name for an alternative to atheistic… …   Etymology dictionary

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