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Difference Between Smart and Intelligent

intelligence_bookSmart vs Intel ligent

For many people, there is no difference between smart and intelligent, because the words seem to be interchangeable. However, there is a difference between the meanings and use of these words.

Smart can be applied to learned inferences, such as making smart business or emotional decisions. Smart is an earned status. When we study and learn, we become smarter in the subject matter. Book smart or street smart, we have to put effort into becoming smarter.

Intelligence, on the other hand, is something with which you are born. Your IQ is a measurement of your intelligence, and doesn’t change because it is a measure of your ability to learn. This can apply to terms we chronically associate with intelligence, like math, or it can apply to your ability to learn negotiation of emotional issues. In either case, it is inherent, and it simply stems from your genetic makeup.

Smart can also be applied to sarcasm. We have ‘smart alec’ answers, or we can be ‘smart’ when answering a question or talking in a conversation. We don’t apply intelligent to the idea of being sarcastic.

Intelligent is used as a higher level of measured intellect. We give a higher compliment when we tell someone they are intelligent, versus when we tell them that they are smart. Intelligence is directly related to our own degree of sophisticated knowledge.

Smart can also be applied to describe appearance. If you are a smart dresser, or you represent yourself in a smart way, this in no way implies that you have intelligence. It means that you are appropriate for the conditions, and that you look very good. We don’t imply that you are an intelligent dresser.

Intelligence also implies a certain degree of higher education. Whether you’ve actually completed a higher education, or you have yet to do so, we refer to intelligent people as those we assume to have completed a higher level of education than high school. While there are those who are intelligent who never go to college, the implication is essential when understanding the description offered.


1. Smart is a learned application.

2. Smart is an earned status.

3. Intelligence is the measurement of your ability to become smarter through learning.

4. Smart can be applied to sarcasm.

5. Intelligence infers a higher degree of intelligence when compared to smart.

6. Smart can be used to describe appearances.

7. Intelligence implies higher learning levels, and higher education.

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  1. It helped me a lot…

  2. Good job. This was my feeling on the matter & thank you for confirming. I’m often offended when people tell me I’m, “smart”. LOL.

  3. thank you for clearing the meaning somewhat .

  4. I believe this is wrong and is most definitely illogical.

    Below is what the professors in college taught us and it seems much more logical:

    Smart: Common sense, street smart, the smarts you are born with. Like a construction worker who never read a book, but is easily able to solve problems and understand things better than the average.

    Intelligent: Knowledge, book smart, the knowledge you acquire. Like a professor who spent their lives studying books and has a great deal of information, but can lack common sense.

    I would never call someone who never read a book an intellectual, just like I would never call a someone who lacks common sense to be very smart.

    I’ve found it is rare to find someone who is both very smart and highly intelligent.

    Also I do believe they are phasing out the IQ system because it is not a good representation of a persons intelligence and does not properly rate intelligence.

  5. People have a real problem with labeling someone as intelligent when their GPA’s are much higher. But most educators know that this is not the case. You can have children that study their butts off and make 100%’s on the lessons they are learning at the moment, but then two weeks down the road they have’nt a clue about what they learned. Then they’re are people that learn something and are able to carry this knowledge with them and actually put what they learn to use!

  6. Thanks!! I thought they were the same thing!!

  7. I was bet $100 that a woman’s dogs were smarter and more intelligent than I. I replied with a snarky comment. Apparently, after reading this article, I am smarter and more intelligent than ANY dog. WIN.

  8. One part of what it saids about intelligent being of emotional issue
    of having a problemo in an academic such as math is obviously clear to get help in this matter. In doing so you will be getting that pat on the back that of what it means “Good Job”!

  9. I would like to tell everyone that I have enjoyed reading the responses regarding the topic of Intelligent/smart. I am a psychology major and often wonder if either fit into the category of “situational”.

  10. Not true intelligence is 50% genetic and 50% environmental.
    I.Q. can be increased by learning and studying.

  11. No… This is wrong. especially about the IQ part. Your IQ changes all the time, with age, stress, etc.

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