Difference Between Smart and Intelligent

Main Difference – Smart vs Intelligent    

Smart and intelligent are two adjectives that are often used to describe clever and bright people. Many people think that all these adjectives such as smart, intelligent, clever, bright, brainy, witty, etc. refer to the same quality. However, there are subtle differences between these adjectives in terms of meaning and usage. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between smart and intelligent. The main difference between smart and intelligent is that intelligent refers to the ability to acquire knowledge whereas smart refers to the ability to apply previously acquired knowledge in practical situations.

Smart – Meaning and Usage

Smart is an adjective that refers to the intelligence of a person. A smart person is also an intelligent person, but he knows how to apply his intelligence to practical situations. However, if we compare the two adjectives intelligent and smart side by side, smart may indicate a lower level of intelligence. A smart person is a person who has a good judgment; he is practical and can adapt himself to situations.

The adjective smart can also refer to the appearance of a person. A clean, tidy, well-dressed person can also be described as smart.

Difference Between Smart and Intelligent

Intelligent – Meaning and Usage

The adjective intelligent is derived from the noun intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. An intelligent person can learn and understand new concepts quickly and easily. They are also good at solving problems.

Intelligence is something that you are born with. Intelligence can be measured with an IQ test. Therefore, intelligence is not something learnt, but it’s something inherent. We generally use the term intelligent to describe people like Issac Newton, and Albert Einstein. In fact, many scientists and physicists have a higher intelligence than ordinary people.

However, intelligence alone cannot complete the personality of a person. Just because a person is intelligent, this doesn’t mean that he is smart or clever. Intelligence merely refers to the ability to acquire knowledge; it doesn’t refer to the ability to apply this knowledge to practical situations. Some intelligent people tend to be very impractical. This is why many scientists and professors who have high intelligence level are often stereotyped as absent- minded people.

Main Difference - Smart vs Intelligent

Difference Between Smart and Intelligent    


Smart refers to the ability to apply previously acquired knowledge in practical situations.

Intelligent refers to the ability to acquire knowledge.


Smart can also refer to the appearance of a person.

Intelligent refers to the intellect of a person.


Smart people are always practical and have good judgment.

Intelligent people may not always be practical.

Inherent Quality

Smart does not refer to an inherent quality.

Intelligent refers to an inherent quality.


Smartness cannot be measured.

Intelligence can be measured.  Difference Between Smart and Intelligent - infographic

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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