1. Having intelligence: Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy?
2. Having a high degree of intelligence; mentally acute: an intelligent student.
3. Showing sound judgment and rationality: an intelligent decision; an intelligent solution to the problem.
4. Appealing to the intellect; intellectual: a film with witty and intelligent dialogue.
[Latin intelligēns, intelligent-, present participle of intellegere, intelligere, to perceive : inter-, inter- + legere, to choose; see leg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
in·tel′li·gential (-jĕnshəl) adj.
Synonyms: intelligent, bright, brilliant, smart, intellectual
These adjectives mean having or showing mental keenness. Intelligent usually implies the ability to cope with new problems and to use the power of reasoning and inference effectively: The company put its most intelligent engineers to work on rectifying the design flaw. Bright implies quickness or ease in learning: She was a bright student who was soon at the head of the class. Brilliant suggests unusually impressive mental acuteness: "The dullard's envy of brilliant men is always assuaged by the suspicion that they will come to a bad end" (Max Beerbohm).
Smart refers to quick intelligence and often a ready capability for taking care of one's own interests: You were smart to buy your house when prices were low. Intellectual implies the capacity to grasp difficult or abstract concepts: The former professor was the more intellectual candidate.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.