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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.

Summary:

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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53 Comments

  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.

    • You are smart but not intelligent.

    • First off I believe both of your definitions are insulting and in accurate. They are both condescending. So one should learn the definition of what smart is from a person that is intelligent ?? I beg to differ. I take it you have also not met very many people because there are many smart and intelligent people in society. And the whole IQ deal. It may not be the best way but it is fairly accurate. I take it you disagree with your personal IQ score. I suspect you’re one of the people that are the grammar nazi type. Tying implement the one thing they know and you’re probably still in college. Grammar also has nothing to do with being smart or intelligent. Sorry if I’m sounding condescending but simply only stating my opinion based on your response.

      • I do not know what my IQ is, nor do I care. I do have a right to my opinion, just as you do. Although I respect others who think differently and would not throw personal insults directly at someone out of the blue, unless they’re already throwing personal insults at me ;p I am merely stating what I believe. Also I’m not the only one who thinks this way, there are a number of websites that talk about the same thing. Go throw personal insults there ;p

        If people would just open there minds and take this as a learning experience, whether or not they believe it, instead of feeling like there intelligence is being insulted. Especially from people I have never met and do not know what there intelligence is. Major insecurities here!

        btw I know my grammar sucks, and I’m very liberal and open minded, I’m not still in college, but I did go, excelled in math and science. I believe I have above average smarts, common sense, and logic, but average intelligence and book smarts. I have met more people from around the world than you could possibly imagine, and from my personal opinion, I think there are many people who are intelligent and smart, but most only truly excel and one.

        Nobody is as smart as they think they are ;p none of us live long enough to grow up!

    • You are definitely smart, but lack intelligence. Common sense is a good surviving tool. Cave men were smart….

      Intelligence is inherent to just a few.

      Good luck

      • This is very a narrow minded view. Much too black and white for my taste. More than just a few are intelligent and it is not entirely inherited.

        You might be intelligent, but you are not very smart and lack a certain logic.

    • vanity, dulls the senses.

  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”.

    • if, for lack of a better word, we say smart is sinister, and intelligent benevolent, should we look at someone as being stupid if he, or she, refuses to be smart?

  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.

  12. The U.S. military ranks intelligence by memory recall. Kind of puts all arguments to rest.

  13. I liked reading through this. I especially like when people talk about being smart vs. intelligent, and misspell words. It makes me giggle. Are you not “smart” enough to turn on spell check, or are you not “intelligent” enough to use spell check. Therein lies the difference.

    I’m not a Webster, but I have my definitions of these words as per real world applications. Ergo, I’m weighing is for what it’s worth. Smart is the accumulation of significant knowledge on any, or a number of, subjects. Intelligence is the ability to apply knowledge. I.E. ,the more things you are smart about, the more opportunities you have to show intelligence. That’s the reason for going to higher learning. However, you can accumulate loads of knowledge without purpose, and still be useless. Being smart does not make you intelligent. In my dictionary, the two are not synonymous.

    I know a lot of people who may not be considered academically smart, but they have shown me they are truly intelligent. They accumulated knowledge on a particular subject, and they can improve methodologies on applications to that field. On the other hand, I know people who have studied subjects relentlessly, and all the can do is regurgitate what others have already said. Academia would have you think that the only path to smart or intelligent is through them, but I say look at how things get done.

    Smart is knowing stuff; intelligent is using the stuff you know.

    • EXACTLY!!! Very well put. imho.

    • I’ve generally gone with a description similar to MT; I’m not on-board with the OP. I put a lot of thought into this when I was tested. I volunteered for a study in college out of curiosity at a time when I was able to notice a difference in my thinking against a known smart population (engineering school). In high school, there was always a chance that those around me were just dumb, for lack of a better word. We were asked to do a little research and provide a self assessment. The results were a measured IQ roughly +2sd (WAIS), so I’m no genius but not average either. Luckily, my self-assessment, though I hesitated to not drop the value in order to relieve pressure on the result, was very close. It has been obvious to me that there are many more people who are smart than are truly intelligent. However, it is also obvious that it is possible to excel whether you are smart or intelligent. It is more important to understand where each individual falls than given credit to unlock potential.

  14. Keep in mind that IQ is a measurement of your intelligence. And measurements can be off sometimes. While your IQ may change with situational factors, your intelligence, in general, does not.

  15. So a smart person can’t become intelligent?

  16. Smart people without intelligence will not know if what they are learning is correct or false. They lack the intellect needed to qualify random information.
    An intelligent person has the ability to learn something new that contradicts old information and determine what is factual based on logic and analytical skills. The intelligent person has the ability to forget falsities in light of newly-discovered truths. It is often the ability to forget these wrong memories in the wake of dominant truth that prevents real progress in many aspects.
    The smart person who lacks intelligence will deny new contradictory information as incorrect and rely on a old knowledge without the ability to reconsider.
    For example, some smart people still believe that saturated fat like butter, tallow, coconut oil, or any fat from a healthy animal is unhealthy. If the smart person is also intelligent then they will be able to replace false information with the truth about healthy saturated fat in light of learning what the current research tells us.

  17. Smart is your ability to use your level of intelligence that you were born with. You can be very intelligent and not very smart. You maybe able to calculate the trajectory at which the ball enters the hoop, but when it comes to practical application, you fail miserably.

  18. I think jesse hit right on the head . intelligence is ability to apply the information you have learned. through application we learn even more than what we could ever read about or be taught by somebody.I also believe having an ability to unlearn things that you think you know is an even better trait. Never accept what was heard or read as finality and sometimes two different beliefs about one thing can both be correct.

  19. It’s hard to understanding… However.. We can find a difference between of these words. :)

  20. Honestly, I learnt more from commentaries than the subject matter. But I think a lot of dudes kept mixing being smart, being intelligent and using INITIATIVE here. Intelligence cannot be defined. I think it is fundamental, a natural ability, an intrinsic quality possessed by every race. Where the problem lies is being smart( a thought-out idea), and making use of your smartness(initiative). Sure they are never the same thing.

  21. Smart/ Intelligent what to say on topics that our Hot and Popular
    that it’s to be knowledgable intellect on your knowledge on a serious note!

  22. Smart/Intelligent to speak on Topics Hot and Popular on a serious note, that to say of life.

  23. Smart means being very knowledgeable, Intelligent means being very teachable.

  24. Wow. This is what I have been looking for. I have been really confused about the differences between smart, intelligent, brilliant, clever and the likes. But I think this has helped a lot.

  25. I got more value out of reading the comments than the article itself. I often feel offended when people call me ‘smart’. Now I understand why. All interesting perspectives thank you. There is one thing I don’t agree with in this article and that is that “we give a higher compliment when we tell someone they are intelligent, versus when we tell them that they are smart”. I think this is very situational. In academic terms or certain work environments, ‘intelligent’ is definitely the higher compliment. However in situations related to problem solving or common sense I think ‘smart’ is the higher compliment. If I have complex analysis to do at work and someone tells me I am intelligent I’d feel more complimented than if they’d used the word ‘smart’. Whereas if my cats keep getting into a particular cupboard at home and I come up with a nifty solution to prevent them from opening said cupboard and someone tells me “what a smart idea”, I feel complimented, whereas ‘intelligent’ would seem out of place there. Just my thoughts.

  26. Though not totally incorrect, the above explanation is incorrect. I’ll sum up the differences in a couple short sentences, followed by a brief description.
    “Smart”, simply means you’re a memorizer.
    ” Intelligent “, means you can develop the materials that ‘smart’ people tend to memorize.
    They are not interchangeable, though you can be both. Just note that the more time you spend memorizing, the less time you spend theorizing. You can do both, but the rule still applies and the human brain can’t focus on but so much at a time. Memorizing doesn’t mean understanding.
    Ex; There are autistic savants that can write everything they have ever read, draw everything they have ever seen, play any music perfectly without having ever studied it, just from hearing it, but they are unaware of what any of it means, and/or that’s’all’ they can do. Those are extreme examples, but in everyday life, smart people basically focus on one thing they’re good at as a career or hobby, while masking their deficiencies.
    So, to sum it up, intelligent isn’t just the ability to learn, because there are things that I just refuse to learn, because I know it’s bs, and I can’t focus on bs. Intelligent people look for real answers whole fighting the system being taught. Smart people just memorize/learn what they can. They work with the data they’re given and build from that. They can mail it a trajectory for a rocket/capsule to land on Mars while compensating all manner of variables, such as gravitational pull, debris, temperature, time dilation, fuel, weight, drag, etc… Am intelligent person may not be able to do that, likely out of lack of interest, but they can tell you if it’s possible to begin with.
    Career example; classical scientists are smart. Quantum physicists are intelligent

    • This is completely wrong about autism. Albert Einstein was autistic and he understood physics far better than anyone else. He did not just memorize things from others.

      Also there are a number of things I do not agree with in your post…

      • Einstein was mildly autistic at best, but that’s actually only a rumor with no basis. Some believe it, others don’t. BTW, as brilliant as Einstein was, he wasn’t nearly as brilliant as Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and many others. He stood out in areas of classical physics, but Newtonian physics isn’t nearly as difficult as Quantum physics, in which Einstein didn’t even agree with. He lost his life long debate with Bohr, and many of Einstein”s theories sre being proven wrong, light being the fastest any particle can travel for one, is wrong. Light being constant is also wrong, being that it can be slowed down artificially, and that red shift is sctually the natural slowing of tired light as per Fritz Zwicky said and no one believed him, yet was proven just a few short years ago. You place too much confidence in the popular figures, but as said about Bohr vs Einstein, “one was popular, the other was right”. But as said in science, you don’t have to agree with science. Science doesn’t care. I say that about you not agreeing with me. Your disagreement doesn’t stop it grom being true. Bit my view on Einstein is, he was a brilliant mathemetician with access to patents. Not saing he wasn’t a brilliant scientist, but he’s no quantum physicist. But I’ll sim up my previous statement in Lehman’s… Smart people follow, Intelligent people lead. Intellectuals are thinkers, smart people are studiers. I’ll post a circle chart that sums up the levels of intellect perfectly if I can. But basically, the more you are of one, the less you are of another, and the perfect balance is that of a genius.

      • Here’s a link to the chart, which makes sense. The author of this also shared my view on the differences. https://intomyownworld.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/know-your-personality-type/

      • Also, look up the difference between autism and autistic savants before accusing someone of being totally wrong.

  27. Also a link to a wordpress site created by some crazy person does not make it true…

  28. 1) I am specifically speaking of autistic savants. They do exist, so so trying to tailor my statement to make yourself correct
    2) Your definition of crazy isn’t the standard, and a chart is a chart. You don’t have to believe it for it to be correct.
    3) I worked in a home that housed people with a range of mental disabilities, including autism, called the Hodges Facility in Oakland, CA. I know a thing or two about autism.
    4) There is a wise range of autism, so I’m sure the person you know may fit into your definition, bit they aren’t the tell all be all of autism. If you have the hubris to assume you know what I’m speaking of, so be it, but people with higher forms of autism are not aware of what it is they do to the point that ‘WE’ are aware of what their doing. Many are very functional, but I specifically stated that I’m not talking about the mild forms. If you can’t understand that, we have no business discussing this. This isn’t for you. At this point, you’re just reaching and trying to find a way to either be correct, and/or be less wrong. Just move on.

    • Autistic savant is not a medical term, it is called Asperger. Everything about your post tells me you’re clueless bordering crazy and probably lying.

    • Also female Asperger and male Asperger are very very different, and I have met plenty of people with Asperger through my friend. I do not believe your definition that they only memorize information describes them. They have thought processes and make associations most cannot.

      • And I do understand people with autism are not aware of how others are feeling or thinking compared to people without autism. Please do not put words in my mouth.

  29. It is called Asperger, autistic savant is not a medical term. I certainly hope someone intolerant and abusive is not working with autistic individuals.

    • I just spoke with my friend and I would like to correct myself. Apparently the saying autistic savant and even the medical term Asperger has been thrown out. Autism (ASD) is now considered a “spectrum”, a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects social interaction/communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior.

      There are so many different types of ASD, each individual is different, with different levels and types of intelligence, which is why it is considered a spectrum now. Although female autism is still considered very different than male autism.

      Some believe repetitive behavior is a product of sensory issues. Many with ASD have sensory issues with light (bright lights), touch (textures), sound (loud noises), and social interactions, which the brain processes as painful. They use repetitive behaviors to help make them feel better, less painful. Memorizing things is one of the ways which comforts them and makes them feel in control, but that does not mean they are not creative. Also many people with ASD have limited interests (restrictive behavior) which is why they know so much about the interests they do have.

      Recent studies show people with ASD have a surplus of synapses, showing they did not go through a “pruning” process during childhood and adolescence. This might explain the sensory issues due to an overload of stimuli, and when the brain is talking too much to itself, it creates “noise” that makes certain things difficult. Also might explain why 46% of ASD children have above average intelligence as The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Although a lack of pruning is not the cause of ASD and people with ASD are born with it. There are many genes associated with ASD.

      ASD and the cause of ASD is not fully understood yet, and there is new information continuously coming out. New theories are even stating that ASD is not actually a disorder, people with autism are just hard wired differently (a different strip), which makes it difficult to live in a world set up for people without autism. As we become more intelligent over time, with bigger brains and more complex synapses, some believe the future brain will be more “autistic” than the modern brain. Food for thought.

      Researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities believed Einstein was considered autistic because he had classic signs that are reflective of ASD. Yet he was also creative and was able to see the big picture. He had intuition about the universe. He knew the answer and could see ahead before he worked out the math and worked to communicate it to others. This is common with people with ASD with restrictive interests.

      Whether or not Einstein, and others like Newton, had ASD I do not know, this is just what some experts have considered.

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